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New Prairie blanks La Porte to retain The Milk Can

Updated: Aug 23, 2020

NEW CARLISLE -- Even though he's a sophomore, Noah Mungia already knows where his bread is buttered as a running back.

After rushing 25 times for 128 yards and a touchdown in his New Prairie varsity debut, Mungia laid all the credit at the feet of the teammates in front of him.

"My blockers are working hard," Mungia said after Saturday's 14-0 win over La Porte at Miller Field. "Thanks to all my linemen. Jaidan Stevens, Hunter Whitenack, Zach Trojanowski, Chris McGrew. They make me look good. Jack (Scott) had a big block that opened up a hole. I just sit back there and wait. They do all the hard work. It's not that hard when you've got those guys. There were smart reads by the quarterback. They were creating big creases for me. I just have to find them. There are definitely some things I can clean up. I need to be a lot more patient."

The Cougars graduated over 4,000 yards of rushing, but Mungia is poised to be the next man up in the backfield, alongside quarterback Ian Skornog and Dallas Ryans.

"Noah has a lot of speed and ability," NP coach Casey McKim said. "Dallas has some juice as well. We decided to continue what I had done at Valpo and we have kids for it. That's what matters."

Based on opening night, McKim intends to make Mungia his workhorse, despite his youth and modest stature.

"Coach McKim said when got here, we're going to grind the ball down the middle, shove it down their throats," Mungia said. "I'm a speed back, but I need to learn how to become a power back. (Brandon Kasinger) doesn't take it easy on me in practice. He goes 100 and I appreciate that. That really got me ready for this game, some of those hits I took."

While it isn't quite the offensive juggernaut of last season, New Prairie showed it's not going to deviate much from its 2019 success on offense under their new coach. At the same time, Skornog showed he can spin it enough to provide a passing dimension. He completed 6 of 7 passes for 66 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown toss to Ryans on a lengthy opening drive. La Porte appeared to have forced a New Prairie punt on fourth and 6 at midfield when Slicers coach Jeremy Lowery was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"I take responsibility for that," Lowery said. "It extended a drive and gave them seven points."

New Prairie doubled its margin in the last minute of the first half, when Mungia went untouched from 17 yards.

"It's great to make a start against La Porte," he said. "I have a deep hatred for La Porte. I wanted to score more on them."

Noah Mungia is wrapped up La Porte defenders in Saturday's game. The New Prairie sophomore rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown. (Photo by Jay Anglin)

La Porte was a play away from getting back in the game all night, but never got that play. It consistently spun its wheels on offense. Jeremiah Ruiz had a 60-yard touchdown run called back for holding and had a 20-yard reception erased by penalty as well in the first half.

"Those are things that happen when you get beat," Lowery said. "New Prairie got after us up front. We were very sporadic. We just couldn't get anything established. I want to use any excuses, but this is our first live action. We didn't have any dress rehearsal. We've got to re-assess everything, personnel wise, substitutions. They were better prepared and outplayed us. I will take the lead by saying I need to do a better job of getting our team ready to play."

New Prairie burned a chunk of the second half with a 14-play possession that followed a 10-play La Porte drive. The Slicers' last chance to score ended on downs at the Cougars 27 in the final minute.

"They were battling extremely hard. Their kids have a ton of pride. They're physical," McKim said. "You can tell coach Lowery is doing a tremendous job with them. There was a time there they were driving it, starting to wear us down, they started to get momentum. We bowed up when they got over here and got a stop. That capped off a tremendous evening by our defense. They've got some really good athletes who can make you miss if they get in the open field. A couple times, there was one tackle left and we made it, that's the difference in big games. One of my proudest things is we had a lot of kids who had to go both ways, and we didn't wear down in the end. We got the ball back and were able to wear them down. That changed everything."

La Porte's offensive struggles overshadowed the play of its defense. Jaden Browder had a sack and a fumble recovery.

La Porte's Jaden Browder pursues New Prairie quarterback Ian Skornog during Saturday's game. Skornog had a touchdown pass in a 14-0 Cougars win. (Photo by Jay Anglin)

"They played hard," Lowery said. "They were just a little gassed down the stretch. They were on the field a lot. It was a major improvement from a year ago, but it's not what we're after. We've got to be better than that and I think we will be. We've got a lot of evaluating to do from top to bottom, all three phases of the game. We have to go back to the drawing board and stay positive. The kids are disappointed. This is a rivalry game. We have to regroup, put the pieces back together. Everybody's frustrated and rightfully so, but we've been through worse than this. My hope is we all take responsibility for our mistakes and grow from this."

The Slicers sacked Skornog three times and had three other tackles for loss, once putting the Cougars in a third and 47 predicament.

"I've never had (34) yards to go for a first down, so that was something new," McKim said. "We just need to get better. Everyone can say that this early in the season. You can chalk it up to rust but no one is going to let you use that as a reason for why you don't win. You have a chance even when you're not playing your best football, you feel lucky that night and make sure you prepare better for the next time to make sure you have a better outing."

Picking up where he left off last season, New Prairie's Brandon Kasinger had two sacks and broke up two passes. La Porte's Jack McGuire completed just two of 12 passes for 11 yards and had two picked off.

"I'm a senior, playing La Porte, it's one of our biggest games of the season," Kasinger said. "It's the last time we get to play them, the last time I'm on the field with my guys getting to play them. It changes your brain. I think they were ready for me because of last year. I'd be on the outside. It was adjustments. I knew they were going to be looking for me. They still couldn't stop me."

"I just love watching him play," McKim said of Kasinger. "He just goes."

As his players celebrated with The Milk Can traveling trophy, McKim was already turning his attentions to week two.

"Honestly, I've been so ridiculously focused on this week, I was kind of blocking everything out," McKim said. "It's amazing. I know they paint both sides and it has all the years. It's fantastic, that kind of history. The kids are all tied to it. They'll remember it the rest of their lives. I think I saw we lost 30-10 over 40 meetings so we got 11. We have a ways to go, but we'll try to keep evening those numbers out as much as possible. We've got a lot of work to do to get ready for next week. It's a short turnaround. We have to get film up and look at it. Playing on Saturday evening, we really have to get right to it."

La Porte hosts Penn on Friday with New Prairie headed to Culver Academy.

"Coach McKim said it's an awesome opportunity to play because a lot of schools can't play," Kasinger said. "I appreciate that we can play. I'm happy we can play."

Note: The Game of the Week is sponsored by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance Coulter Tran Agency. They specialize in home, auto, farm, business and life insurance. For a quote, call (219) 344-4500.

Week 1 Predictions: Tran -- New Prairie 31, La Porte 14; Coulter -- La Porte 26, New Prairie 20

New Prairie coach Casey McKim addresses his team after Saturday's 14-0 win over county rival La Porte. (Photo by Jay Anglin)

New Prairie 14, La Porte 0

La Porte 0 0 0 0 -- 0

New Prairie 7 7 0 0 -- 14

First Quarter

NP -- Dallas Ryans 3 pass from Ian Skornog (kick)

Second Quarter

NP -- Noah Mungia 17 run (kick)

Team Statistics

First Downs: La Porte 6, New Prairie 14. Rushes-Yards: La Porte 31-116; New Prarie 45-184. Passing: La Porte 2-12-2-11; New Prairie 6-7-0-66. Penalties-Yards: La Porte 3-30, New Prairie 5-55. Fumbles-Lost: La Porte 0-0; New Prairie 2-1. Punts-Avg.: La Porte 6-28.3; New Prairie 4-33.5.

Individual Statistics

Rushing: La Porte -- Collin Berguist 14-54, Jayden Parkes 6-34, Jeremiah Ruiz 2-28, Jamaal Salary 4-19, Jack McGuire 5-(19); New Prairie -- Noah Mungia 25-129, Ian Skornog 17-54, Dallas Ryans 3-1.

Passing: La Porte -- McGuire 2-12-2-11; New Prairie 6-7-0-66.

Receiving: La Porte -- Grant Ott-Large 2-11; New Prairie -- Zane Gazarkiewicz 1-33, Ryans 4-20, Hayden Clark 1-13.

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