Battle for the jug
The 2017 LPHS football season kicked off on Friday night, August 18th.
The season began with a game against one of La Porte’s biggest rivals: New Prarie. With the winning score of 41 to 12, La Porte did not disappoint, but there were victories in the first game that went beyond the final score.
“We had a lot of success as a team. We worked well together and didn’t quit or stop until the buzzer rang, ending the game. This was the first game of the season, and we can only move forward from here as long as we continue to work hard,” Jake Thode, senior right tackle and offensive lineman, said.
Dave Sharpe, head football coach in his third season, has seen firsthand how his players have grown over their high school careers. With so many senior players finally getting their time in the varsity game, a new mentality has taken on, contributing to their first success.
“We have a lot of hungry seniors. Many of them had minimal playing time last year on varsity. They are very eager to show what they can do for their senior season. This sense of urgency has caught fire and helped to create a ‘win now’ culture in our program,” Sharpe said.
La Porte’s success is not unique to the first game of the season. La Porte has won the season’s first game often in past years. What sets the first game apart from others is the competitiveness between the teams.
“It’s a county rivalry. They’re right down the road, so there are a lot of bragging rights for this game,” Nolan Lorez, senior quarterback who scored three touchdowns on Friday, said. “And we’ve been practicing for it. Everyday.”
It was not just the players hoping for a win on Friday night. The first game brought a large crowd to the stands, along with an ever-supportive student section. The student section is another unique aspect of the La Porte football season.
“We really have a lot of team pride and we are able to come together when it really matters, unlike any other team,” Rylee Ogle, senior and spectator, said.
With six touchdowns in the game for La Porte and only two for New Prairie, La Porte’s victory did not come as a surprise. Though there were moments of uncertainty, the doubt was quickly erased.
“Even though we had more points the whole game, watching some of the New Prairie plays made it seem like they could make a comeback. But in the second quarter, it was clear we’d win,” Joslyn Holt, senior, said after watching the game.
Though there has only been one game this season, the 1-0 record for La Porte is a beacon for games to come. That beacon shines on a precious and somewhat strange tradition for the rival schools: The battle for the milk jug.
“It [the battle for the milk jug] started back in 1971, I think. It started at New Prairie and it’s a tradition now. Whoever wins keeps the jug,” senior Drayson Nespo, running back who scored one touchdown at the game, said. “This was the battle for the jug. Who’s the better team?”
After the first game of the season, the answer to that question is clear by 29 points.