By STEVE HANLON
ST. JOHN -- The opening night of the football season is exciting for most. There are a million stories and thousands of fans gathered around the pride of the Region -- high school football.
On Aug. 19, at the state of the art facility at Lake Central, "something very special happened for the Arcella family. Father Mike was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame. The 1999 grad was the quarterback on those powerful state-ranked teams.
But on that night, Mike wasn't the one concerned about the spotlight shining down on him. His senior son, Nick, was on hand for the celebration.
It's a memory, a photograph, that will always mean much to the family and the program.
"Nick was in uniform, wearing the No. 9 jersey that I wore," Mike said. "That meant so much to me. I couldn't be any prouder."
Deja vu all over again in blue, right?
Mike was a defensive back as a sophomore in the 1996 campaign that was played in the mosquito-infested Burial Grounds of yesteryear. The Indians lost by seven in the sectional opener. In Week 3 of the 1997 season against Munster, a hit caused a lacerated kidney with some broken ribs for Arcella, who was playing quarterback by then. It ended his season. L.C. lost to Portage 15-14 in the sectional semifinal.
A healthy senior season, where Arcella had Nick Testa catching passes, the Indians lost to Valparaiso in the sectional semifinals. Another example of how grueling the old Sectional 1 was at that time.
"We had a great team, a great group of guys at that time," Mike said. "It was brutal."
He was offered a scholarship to St. Joseph's College, but chose to stay home. He tried out for the Chicago Rush and made several cuts before not making the Arena Football League team.
About a decade of semi-pro football followed as wife Jaimie and he started their family.
Michael is the oldest at 19. Nick, the family's second No. 9, is 17. And Lindsay, 15, plays basketball at Andrean.
"My dad had a huge impact on me," said Nick, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound DB. "We were always doing something related to football. He coached me when I was younger, Pop Warner and Tri-Town Raiders. We watched a lot of games on TV, college and pro.
"We even watched some of his old game tapes from time to time."
Mike Arcella, a 1999 Lake Central graduate, was inducted into the school's athletics hall of fame in August. His son Nick is a senior defensive back for the Indians. Photo provided
Second-year Lake Central coach Rick Good is very happy to have Nick wearing No. 9 for his team. Arcella has 34 tackles through five games, where the Indians are 3-2 heading into next weekend's game at Michigan City.
It isn't the stats alone, however, that makes Good happy to have an Arcella on the roster.
"We do a lot of things in the community for the youth," Good said. "Nick is always the first one there and he's one of the last to leave. It's great to have a leader on this team like Nick. He's very good for us on the field, too.
"He calls the defensive plays for us. He has to come up and defend the run, which he's very good with. But he also has to cover the receivers going out. I couldn't be happier with what he's doing for our program."
Both Mike and Nick for Lambert Concrete in Crown Point. Mike is a wall foreman and a finisher. Nick does whatever the other youngsters are doing, whatever they're asked to do by the elders.
The two have spent countless hours in the weight room together. Some things haven't changed from the 1990s and 2020s.
"I just wanted him to be as strong as he could be," Mike said. "That's what football is. Strength, be as tough as you can be and to never give up."
Arcella is symbolic of where the Indians program is at and where they want to get to. Getting stronger, getting tougher and learning how to never quit. These are keys as the program develops.
"We believe in this team," Nick said. "We've been together since middle school and Pop Warner. We're working hard to be the best we can be. We want to take that into the second half of the season and on into the playoffs.
"I'm so grateful for everything my dad has done for me. He's one of my best friends and I can't thank him enough."
Nick Arcella is a senior defensive back for Lake Central. His dad Mike played for the Indians in the late 1990s. Photo provided