MERRILLVILLE | The trees in Glen Park bent southward around 8 p.m. on Friday night. The trees in Lowell tilted to the north. The trees in Schererville leaned east. And the ones in Portage shifted to the west.
It was caused by the Andrean Nation collecting its breath in fear, when senior quarterback Matt DeSomer was carted off the field at halftime of the Class 3A regional game against Jimtown.
It would be like the Broncos losing Peyton Manning. The U.S. Army without Patton. Or Van Halen losing Sammy Hagar.
Andrean without DeSomer is like peanut butter without jelly.
There was an eerie quiet in the stands at Father Eckert Field awaiting the second half to start. When No. 3 trudged back onto the field a loud cheer was heard.
And all the trees in Northwest Indiana stood upright again.
“I was not coming out,” said DeSomer after his 59ers won, 27-7, and will now host West Lafayette at 6:30 p.m. next Friday. The winner of that game advances to Lucas Oil Stadium.
“I tweaked it,” DeSomer said. “That's it. I'm good.”
In the second half our area's Mr. Football candidate didn't do much except hand the ball off and eat clock. He finished 16-of-21 for 164 yards and one score. He also rushed seven times for 63 yards and the first score of the game.
His game IQ, ability to run and pass all season has amazed fans all over. But on this Friday night he showed a toughness usually reserved for guys named Bronko.
“He's the best high school football player I've ever seen,” Andrean coach Phil Mason said. “It's amazing what he's done. We kept him in in the second half for his leadership and the kids rallied around him.”
DeSomer should be on the short list for Mr. Football. Andrean's Tommy Finn finished second in the voting for this award in 2004. That's the best any area player has ever done.
He must lead the 59ers to the state championship game to have a chance. He does want to eat turkey in Indy on Thanksgiving Weekend. But it has nothing to do with wearing the No. 1 jersey.
“Mr. Football, is that an award?” he asked after the win. “Is it? I'm not worried about that at all. I'm only concerned with my team.”
That sentence right there should earn him some more votes for an award that doesn't mean much to him. Not compared to finishing this remarkable season for the No. 1 team in the state.
So where do I put my check next to his name?
“I want Matt to win it,” Mason said. “He's deserved it.”
“I have no control over that,” DeSomer said.
He needs to play before Indy eyes. That means he and his teammates have to win one more game. Don't bet against this young man, even if he's playing on one leg next Friday.
Then all the trees in the area can turn into Redwoods with a touch of gold.