"Lake Central's a different team this year:" Indians may be turning a corner in Good's second season
Updated: Sep 25, 2022
MICHIGAN CITY -- It was a leap of faith when Lake Central hired Rick Good.
"The Lake Central admin, (Athletics Director) Chris Enyeart and (Assistant Athletics Director) Jeff Sandor, took a chance on a 3A coach from Gary," said Good, who came to LC from Calumet. "I took that to heart. I knew I was getting a chance that maybe wasn't there yet."
Some would say it was a leap of faith on Good's part to take over a program, albeit one in 6A, that had won eight games in the last four years, half of those coming against Munster.
"We want to build a culture of being tough on defense and grinding on offense," said Good, who already lived in Schererville. "People said that wasn't around Lake Central, but these are the same kids who were there last year. These are the guys that make that stuff happen. I brought everybody I had from Calumet. This is the same staff. But us coming in really was just a by-product of the situation. It worked out where the stars aligned, the job was open, and I felt like it was one of those things that was going to work out."
It all started with a bang last year with shutouts of Munster and Hammond Morton, followed by a Duneland Conference win over Portage, but all the feels dissipated as the Indians lost their last seven games, six of them in blowout fashion.
"We were lucky enough to win one and the rest of the Duneland got us," Good said. "The second halves of a lot of those games were running clocks. We'd get a lot of "Good luck" and would keep the bulletin board material from all over the Internet and make sure the kids see it all the time."
It wasn't long after the 54-6 loss in the sectional to Lafayette Jefferson that Good began looking to 2022.
"When coach Good came, everybody doubted him because he was a new coach, (from) a 3A school, the record wasn't so good," Amarion Brooks said. "Coach Good brought in a big family. We all worked together, started putting in the work in the weight room, putting everything together."
Lake Central had a returning senior class of 20 and, as Good put it, he didn't know if they had a day when they didn't have all 20 show up for workouts.
"We made a challenge to these seniors," Good said. "Your senior season starts tomorrow. That class is getting a lot of the credit for hopefully making this uphill battle we've had a little easier. These guys put in a lot of work in the off-season, January all the way to today, to figure out, how do we climb the ladder in the Duneland? To me, it's the hardest ladder to climb in our area. They've just started to believe, believe that teams who have been better than them the last few years, we've had enough. The seniors deserve most of the credit."
The Indians continued to make progress in the first five games, going 3-2, but it lacked a credibility win until Friday when it rallied with two touchdowns in the last five minutes to knock off Michigan City 35-31. Yes, the Wolves are 1-5, but this is a program that made it to the 5A semistate last season and has dudes like running back Jaden Hart, a Division I recruit, and linebacker Jahari Branch.
"We've had some connections over the years," Good said. "It's been nice to have a game where we bring a little bit to the party, too. That defense is really good. (Branch) is really good, all-conference, if not all-area, if not further."
The nature of the comeback more so than the quality of the opponent was what stood out for the Indians, who trailed 31-21 in the second half for a scoreboard span of about 13 minutes.
"We had some halftimes where we felt like we were out of it even though we were only a score or so down," Good said. "They never flinched in the second half. Michigan City drove the ball to start the second half. At that point, we were in a lot of trouble. For them to show some resiliency and come back from two scores down late, that's going to serve us well the rest of the way."
The Indians didn't complete a pass until the fourth quarter, when Chase Kwiatkowski hit Lamarr Richardson for 44 yards. A play later, Kwiatkowski hit a wide open Owen Denny, left uncovered downfield in a busted coverage, for a 35-yard score, giving LC renewed hope with 4:47 left.
"(Denny) blocks a lot," Good said. "He plays our wing. He moves around the formation, but we haven't run him out on anything vertical yet. We're lucky because he would've gotten caught if anybody was any closer. He's a kicker. Getting within one score, I think that triggered a lot of enthusiasm. The sidelines got pretty loud. Having that in their sights made it easier for these guys to come up and make a play."
Up 31-28 inside of three minutes, City faced a third-and-3 to keep the ball and L.C. (4-2, 3-1) was waiting for Hart, holding him to a minimal gain. The punt snap then sailed over Tyler Bush's head and the best he could do was fall on it at the City 8. Xavier Williams, bottled up most of the game by a City defense stacking the box, angled in from the 1 on a third down direct snap for the go-ahead score.
"Roy (Richards) is a defensive savant," Good said. "He knows what we were going to try to do. Even in Wildcat after a while, he stopped covering the guy he needed to cover. We've had our one-two punch of Brooks and Williams. Amarion doesn't get a lot of the credit, he doesn't get a lot of the yardage, he doesn't get a lot of the touches. We made it a point this week to make sure he was part of the game plan. He was kind of a decoy last week. He's pretty much done the most in the weight room to improve himself. He outran a really good defense down the sideline. That was fun to see. We were hoping to win this game in the 20s. Winning in the 30s gives us some juice moving forward."
Williams averaged over 150 yards a game coming in, scored twice but was checked on 47 by the Wolves. Brooks, the lightning to Williams' thunder, picked up the slack, putting up touchdowns of 10 and 70 yards in the second quarter.
"They were taking away the inside, so the outside was mostly open," said Brooks. "That was the most people anybody's put on stopping Xavier. The ends were coming down. Coach was telling us to bounce it out because they were all slanting down. We were trying to find what we could do and we made something happen. This game was redemption. My freshman year, we lost by four because of a thunderstorm. I had to come back and redeem myself. The team played hard and fought together. The second half, we came out a little slow. I was telling the guys, let's get it up. We never gave up. We started playing as one, we faced the adversity, and got the turnover we needed."
Michigan City turned the ball over on downs and LC ran out the clock for the character victory.
"This is a statement game for us," Brooks said. "We are an up and coming team. This wins means a lot. This is a big game."
The metaphor of the empty stands behind the LC sidelines, the result of a car accident Thursday night that damaged the bleachers and put all the fans on the home side, was not lost on Good.
"Our fans weren't behind us, they were in front of us," he said. "This is a perfect analogy for us. It was actually nice to have that seclusion where we were by ourselves. It ended up being something we used to our advantage. No one heard all the secrets."
As for secrets, the Indians aren't one anymore. The fourth victory matches their most since 2016.
"The program we had the past couple years, everyone was doubting us," Brooks said. "Lake Central's a different team this year."