Caston to host Culver in battle of winless teams; Pioneer to host Hoosier North-leading Knox; Winamac to travel to unbeaten West Central
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Tippecanoe Valley (6-0) at West Lafayette (5-1), 7 p.m.
Nate Parker ran for 166 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-14 win over Jimtown last week. Parker is now fourth on Valley’s all-time rushing list with 2.745 career yards, and he is even No. 9 on Valley’s receiving yards list with 646. (Teammate Wade Jones is No. 7 with 793 career receiving yards.)
While Valley’s six-game winning streak has moved them to No. 7 in this week’s Associated Press Class 3A poll, West Lafayette has moved to No. 2 based on their five-game winning streak. The Red Devils lost their opener to Harrison (West Lafayette) but have won their last five games by 30 points per game.
Senior quarterback Carson Kitchel threw for 232 yards and four touchdowns last week in a 49-14 win over Benton Central. Two of his touchdown passes went to his brother Cooper, and Benny Speaker had eight catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.
West Lafayette will play a no-huddle offense, according to Valley coach Stephen Moriarty.
“It’s been hard to go through and figure out every formation that they’ve ever run, but the one thing about them is they are quick-tempoed,” Moriarty said. “So you won’t have time to huddle. They don’t huddle, so it’s going to be on the hop.”
Valley sophomore fullback-linebacker Grady Moriarty suffered a broken leg against Jimtown and is out for the season.
Culver (0-6, 0-4 Hoosier North) at Caston (0-6, 0-4), 7 p.m.
Culver gained some momentum when they scored two touchdowns in the second quarter on a Jack Rodgers run and an Ethan Binion fumble return, but they did not score in the second half in a 45-14 loss at Winamac last week.
Culver coach Austin Foust said that sophomore Drake Zorich and freshman Theron Carrington are out with injuries, depleting the Cavaliers’ line depth.
Caston held North White to less than one-third of their scoring average last week, but they still took a 14-6 loss to the Class 1A, No. 9 North White. The loss was their 20th straight dating back to September 2021.
The key could be whether a Caston offense that averages 8.5 points per game can score on a Culver defense allowing 50.3 ppg.
Caston is 0-8 against Culver since they became Hoosier North rivals in 2015.
Knox (6-0, 4-0 Hoosier North) at Pioneer (4-2, 2-2), 7:30 p.m.
Pioneer played without quarterback Micah Rans and fullback Rylahn Toloza due to injuries last week in a 27-16 loss to Triton. Toloza and Rans are Pioneer’s top two rushers, yet even without them, they ran for 173 yards as a team. Quarterback Cayden Hill, playing under center for the first time since he was a freshman three years ago, led the team with 80 yards rushing.
Pioneer will host a Class 3A, No. 12 Knox team that is coming off a 21-13 win over LaVille last week that left them as the only remaining unbeaten in the Hoosier North. Knox relies on Rowen Jordan and Myles McLaughlin, both of whom could see time at quarterback, and junior Jake Conroy.
“It’s a very disciplined, patient offense, but they do it extremely well,” Pioneer coach Adam Berry said of Knox. “You can tell they are extremely well-coached.”
Berry said Rans is “still more than likely out.” He called Toloza a “game-time decision.”
Knox beat Pioneer last year 53-18, ending Pioneer’s seven-year winning streak against them.
Winamac (1-5) at West Central (6-0), 7 p.m.
Winamac ended a season-opening five-game losing streak with a 45-14 win at home over Caston last week.
Cash Roth, who started at quarterback last year, made his first start of this season under center and guided a Warrior offense that gained 424 total yards. Winamac scored 28 points in their previous five games combined.
Winamac coach Josh Burgess said he made the move to Roth to “jumpstart” the offense, though he went on to say that he did not want the offense’s prior problems to be blamed on one player.
He said Roth will continue to quarterback the team in the future.
He also said their conditioning was a factor against Culver.
“I thought we kind of wore down against Judson the week before (a 21-8 loss),” Burgess said. “But I thought offensively, we got a lot of guys involved. Up front, we did a nice job of getting off the ball in the run game. We threw it just enough, so I think as the game went on especially in the second half and into the fourth quarter, I thought we wore them down a little bit.”
West Central is 16-2 since the start of the 2022 season. Quarterback Connor Marlatt and fullback Jacob Pilarski lead a Trojan offense that is averaging 50 points per game.
West Central beat Winamac 20-14 last year at Roudebush Field, ending a streak of 12 straight losses to Winamac. But of their 16 wins since the start of 2022, that is one of only two wins against non-Class 1A teams.