MUNSTER | There were crickets chirping. The sunset was nice. You might've heard a banjo twanging, too, now and again.
That's the way Munster junior Seth Gutwein summed up growing up in Francesville.
"It was in the middle of nowhere," Gutwein said. "There's a lot of cornfields there. There's about 600 people in town. There were 63 kids in my class. We had a gas station and two restaurants.
"But it was like a 30-minute drive to the nearest McDonald's."
Gutwein is no Gomer when it comes to high school football. The junior skill ace was weaned by West Central coach Darren Rodriguez, who leads a great Class A program in the boonies.
But when Gutwein's father, Kevin Cox, moved for his job as a stone quarry manager, they asked Seth if he wanted to move. The well-known smile on his face lit up the room.
Lake Central coach Brett St. Germain probably wishes Gutwein had stayed in Francesville drinking lemonade on the front porch.
In last Friday's 27-9 loss to the Mustangs, Gutwein had a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and returned a punt 40 yards to the 5, where he would score a play later.
"I love being in Munster," Gutwein said. "There's a lot more stuff to do. The competition is a lot higher, too."
Coach Leroy Marsh had Gutwein playing quarterback last year as a sophomore. Munster won just two games last season. But he was "demoted" to running back over the summer.
The 3.8 GPA honor roll student is leading on and off the field, which brings a smile to Marsh's face.
"Seth is like the Pied Piper," Marsh said. "The kids at Munster, all of them, all flock to Seth's smile. He is one of the nicest kids at Munster High School. He had a great attitude when we moved him to running back.
"We wanted to get him the ball in different situations."
Last year, Lake Central beat Munster 40-0. Last year, Chesterton beat Munster 42-17 in Week 2. The Mustangs travel to Porter County to try and even the score against the Trojans.
"It was huge for our program," Marsh said of the L.C. win. "We've been in a total rebuilding mode for the past eight months. We were young last year and the kids have worked hard.
"We're happy with the win, but Chesterton is big. We're not done yet. We have a long way to go."
Gutwein didn't get many yards against L.C.'s defense. Tonight will be a tough test, too. But what he's done, returning kicks has been special, like what Devin Hester did for the Bears in 2006.
"It's a weird feeling," Gutwein said of returning kicks. "I get anxious and excited. But I know one thing. Special teams can win games. Special teams can lose games."