Head Coach: Chris Skinner
2021 Record: 12-3
Aug. 19: @ Merrillville
Aug. 26: Crown Point
Sept. 3: Crete-Monee (IL)
Sept. 9:@ East Chicago Central
Sept. 16: Highland
Sept. 23: @ Hobart
Sept. 30: @ Munster
Oct. 7: @ Kankakee Valley
Oct. 14: Lowell
Impact Player: Drayk Bowen. The 6’2 215 Notre Dame commit had a monster 2021 season, running for 965 yards and 18 touchdowns as well as making 235 total tackles, four interceptions and six forced fumbles on defense.
Breakout Player Candidate: Pat Clacks. The 6’2 175 rising junior had a strong 2021 campaign, catching 51 balls for 767 yards and 5 touchdowns. Expect more action as he returns in his second season as a starter.
Season Outlook: With his recruiting out of the way, Andrean do-it-all player Drayk Bowen has one goal for the 2021 season: take his team back to Lucas Oil Stadium and repeat as state champions.
“I want to us go all the way to the Dome again, to go undefeated and win outright conference champs,” Bowen said. “As far as personal goals, I want to try to earn Mr. Football and Gatorade Player of the Year again.”
To prepare, the do-it-all athlete has been eating 8,000 calories a day, lifting four times per week, and staying at a lean, mean 225 pounds. Bowen has emerged as a leader of sorts for Notre Dame’s 2023 recruiting class, and it’s easy to see why. In last year’s state championship victory over Evansville Mater Dei, he racked up 171 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns on offense and notched 6 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble on defense. He added a punt block on special teams. Still, Bowen says he has a lot to improve on ahead of the upcoming season.
“I would say block destruction was the area I had the most opportunity to grow in my game,” Bowen said. “I hadn’t ever really had to use my hands and handwork until really last year. It was definitely a new thing. I have been working and definitely have improved it. I look forward to continue to work on that and making sure I keep getting better in my pass coverage and drops.”
Bowen won’t be alone as the Fighting 59ers have plenty of up-and-coming talent. A name to watch will be wide receiver Patrick Clacks, who already holds offers from Western Michigan, Pittsburgh, Miami-Ohio, Connecticut and Ball State.
“I believe that our team can and will reach another state championship, as long as we play together as a team,” Clacks said. “No individuality, but only togetherness. We have the players and coaches to get back to the championship. Preparation is key.”
Clacks said he is working on being more aggressive and dominant, citing so much there is to learn as a football player.
“I’m always on the younger side for my class, so I’ve been also trying to improve my physical attributes as well,” Clacks said.
“I like our chances if we stay humble and hungry,” Bowen added. “We have quite a few returning seniors and not very many spots are vacant so I think the experience that we have really helps. As a team we just need to understand that we have a target on our backs and people are going to want to come for us so we have to step up and stay focused.”