MERRILLVILLE | Phil Mason stood outside the end zone on Nov. 5, 2004. He saw the ball cut through the cold night air. He saw the catch that cemented a legacy.
Andrean quarterback Tommy Finn tossed a "Hail Mary" pass into the Griffith end zone on a 4th and 26 pass play which set up a fake extra point and the two-point conversion that gave the 59ers a remarkable 36-35 win.
Finn would lead Andrean to the Class 3A state championship a few weeks later, Finn passed for 170 yards and one score and rushed for 95 yards and two more touchdowns in the 59ers' 21-14 win over Heritage Hills.
"I remember the reaction of the Griffith players after the play," Mason said. "It was devastating. What a play. Probably one of the greatest plays in region postseason history."
Mason was at Wheeler then. Now, he's at Andrean, leading the 59ers into Friday's Class 3A state championship game against Indianapolis Brebeuf. So he's heard the question.
It's the same one fans all across the area have heard all autumn long. Who is the greatest Andrean quarterback? Finn or current senior Matt DeSomer?
In that glorious '04 campaign, Finn went 225-of-366 for a state-best 3,238 yards for 36 touchdowns. He rushed for another 795 yards and 13 TDs.
Heading into Friday's game, DeSomer is 121-of-199 for 2,374 yards and 24 scores. He's rushed the ball 143 times for 1,546 yards and 18 TDs.
Both wore No. 3 and both were and are fantastic.
"They are very similar," said Munster coach Leroy Marsh, the only Northwest Crossroads Conference coach to go up against both players. "Both are great athletes who lead their teams well."
Marsh said that his memory tells him that DeSomer has more foot speed, but Finn threw a better ball on the move. He said DeSomer is a more pure passer, but Finn was right up there.
Marsh said that Finn's team played a tougher schedule because some of the teams this year's Andrean team played were better nine years ago. Marsh also thought Finn's team had a tougher postseason test.
Finn was a volunteer assistant coach on Andrean's baseball team when DeSomer was a freshman. They talk from time to time.
"Matt has made vast improvements each year," Finn said. "Last year he was an athlete. This year he's an athlete who can throw the ball and read defenses much better."
Both players come from rich football families. Finn's brothers, Billy and Bobby, played quarterback on Broadway, too. Bobby led the 59ers to the 1997 Class 3A state game, a 27-23 loss to Indianapolis Chatard.
Tommy Finn was on three Andrean state finalist teams but didn't win until his senior year.
DeSomer's uncle, Ryan King, played on Lowell's 2005 Class 4A state championship team. His brother, Bryan, was on the Red Devils' 2009 state runnerup team.
"Yeah, I've heard it," Matt DeSomer said of the debate. "I honestly don't remember (Finn). I know I went to the Lowell-Andrean games in middle school, but I wandered off and didn't watch the games.
"Once I got here everyone talked about Tommy."
In Finn's 21-14 win over Heritage Hills, he passed for 170 yards and one score and rushed for 95 yards and two more. His 10-yard run with 56 seconds left in the third quarter was a game-changer.
Now, it's DeSomer's turn to see what he can do on the state's biggest stage. And Finn has some advice.
"It's such a neat time in the life of an 18-year-old," Finn said. "Savor the moment. Enjoy it. Then, go out and play your game."
DeSomer said he's ready.
"I didn't get here by myself, it took the entire team and I have to thank my family," DeSomer said. "We haven't been in this game since 2004. Our team is hungry. We want to finish this season off like we should."
There will be a long line of people in the Finn camp. And another line of folks following DeSomer.
Mason has a good way to sum up the argument.
"To be honest, what does it matter?" Mason said. "Both are great quarterbacks and both are great young men. Tommy calls me all the time and asks if there's anything he can do to help. I know they send texts to each other.
"At some places you have some jealousy between teams from different eras. We don't have that here. I know the 2004 team is rooting for us to go down there and win it."