INDIANAPOLIS | Northwest Indiana players were not to blame for Friday’s 27-6 loss to the South, but several were part of the chaos that resulted in a third consecutive sound defeat.
Despite extreme heat, the All-Star game is always the right place and the right time, but several local players were in the wrong place as untimely miscues scrambled any rhythm the North had. Others had to stand and watch most of the game as substitution patterns were unkind.
Several players made penalties to stymie drives, while others were unable to get the ball enough to show what made them an All-Star in the first place.
In the fourth quarter alone, Chesterton playmaker Joe Troop was hung out to dry on two sideline passes and overthrown on another that landed in a South defender’s hands, albeit out of bounds.
Troop finished with one catch for 11 yards.
"We ran a lot. I feel like we saved a lot of our big plays till the end, and it was too little, too late," Troop said.
Valpo's Andrew Kittridge, who will play with Troop at the University of Indianapolis, managed 12 yards on three carries, lining up at fullback.
'"It was tough to get a rhythm, especially rotating backs," Kittridge said.
Hulking Andrean tight end Nick Serrato was supposed to start for the North but a recurring right knee injury that required an MRI held him out of the starting lineup. He played around 10 snaps on Friday, choosing caution with his freshman year at DuPage imminent.
“Really, though, it’s all about the experience down here,” Serrato said. “We’re all All-Stars at the end of the day.”
Silent night: Troop and Portage's Rashaan Coleman lined up alongside each other on kickoff returns, but neither of the region game breakers got a chance to show their stuff on special teams. All but one South kickoff went for a touchback, and the other was a squib kick that was covered by an up man.
"It was unbelievable," Troop said. "(Their punter's) leg was getting weaker each kick. I was just praying I'd get one."
Rivals turned teammates: Troop and Kittridge, rivals in high school, will be on the same side in college, at the University of Indianapolis. They didn't spend the week in their future dorm, but it was nearby.
"It helped a lot," Kittridge said, complimenting the food. "A couple guys from other schools are going to be down here, too. It was fun. We're all buddies now."
Future Crusader: The lone Indiana All-Star heading to Valparaiso University played a significant role in Friday’s proceedings.
Matthew Gatewood, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound punter out of South Decatur, placed both of his punts perfectly. His 61-yarder off the hands of a North player was recovered at the 7-yard line by Gatewood’s South teammates and set up a field goal that put the South up 10-6.
“I was just trying to get it down as far as we could,” Gatewood said. “My instinct was just to kick as far as I could, but there were some rushers, so I had to rugby it a little. I got lucky and it started moving and worked out perfectly.”
Gatewood, who’ll major in kinesiology, liked VU’s campus, coaches and vicinity.
“When I went there I knew that was where I wanted to go,” Gatewood said.
Slicer techy: LaPorte offensive line coach Bob James was the recipient of the Indiana Football Coaches Association Tom Kelly Memorial Award for Technology. James is entering his 19th season with the Slicers.
Etc.: Bessie Colvin, mother of former Boilermaker and Bear Rosevelt Colvin, sang the national anthem. ... Colts Anthony Costanzo and Dwayne Allen were honorary captains. ... A crowd of 4,632 sweated out the game, not for the suspense, but for the 90-degree temperatures.