GARY | Two weeks ago, West Side's season opener with visiting Hobart became an 11th hour soap opera when it was discovered the Cougars' field lights didn't work.
Eventually, the game was played as scheduled. But the negative press surrounding Gary athletics and its poor playing facilities was nonstop.
Friday night, West Side's game with Times' No. 7 Andrean was postponed until 11 a.m. Saturday at Andrean for an even more embarrassing reason.
No officiating crew.
"We had our athletic director (Tim Crnkovich) and the athletic secretary call West Side Monday and asked if they needed help. and they said no," 59ers coach Phil Mason said. "Claude Holifield, the crew chief, said (tonight) he never got a contract."
At about 7:30 p.m., the game was called, and Andrean coaches and players filed for the team bus, while Cougars' coach Jason Johnson met with his squad in the north end zone.
"It wasn't Jason's fault. I feel for Jason and his kids," Mason said.
West Side athletic director Vanessa Nichols was busy doing damage control afterward. Johnson said he had yet to confer with her about the officiating oversight.
"She's here, (but) she's swamped tonight," he said. "I'd love to play here (Saturday). I got $1,000 of concession food here out of my pocket."
As Johnson watched Andrean's side of the stadium clear out, he could only shake his head as his kids walked slowly to their locker room.
"They're only human. I've got to talk them back up. I've got to talk myself back up (for Saturday)," he said.
Added Mason, "We need to get our work in. I don't want a week off. The game's (today) at our place.
"I'm not coming back (here)."
At least it won't be a lengthy road trip. West Side's football teams must feel like tourists whenever they hit the road for an away game.
Friday night's game would've been the Cougars' 115th since the 2000 season -- 32 of which have been played out of state and 37 out of the region.
Johnson, West Side's third head coach since 2008, would love to join a large local conference and stay closer to home for games until the postseason.
What he and his kids don't need are embarrassing issues like faulty lights and contracts that aren't mailed.
"We're facing adversity again. It's Gary. Anything's possible," Johnson said. "But my mission, my passion, go beyond that. I'm here for the kids."