‘Ville’ in the blank: Lancers hand Pioneer rare shutout, win Class 2A sectional title
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
LAKEVILLE –- LaVille football coach Will Hostrawser said a rivalry isn’t really a rivalry if one team does the all the winning.
Given that criteria, there was no rivalry between Hostrawser’s Lancers and Pioneer prior to their Class 2A, Sectional 34 final meeting at LaVille Friday.
Now there is.
Paul DeWitt ran for three touchdowns, and Ross Wagoner caught a touchdown pass and returned an interception for a touchdown as LaVille topped Pioneer 41-0 for their first win ever over the Panthers.
The sectional title is LaVille’s fifth in school history and their first since 2017. They improved to 9-2 and will travel to face No. 8 Andrean in the regional next Friday.
Andrean routed Whiting 49-0 in the Sectional 33 final.
Pioneer finished 9-3.
Pioneer’s nine-game winning streak was snapped. So was their eight-game winning streak against LaVille. Pioneer had beaten LaVille 12-7 on Sept. 3 in their regular season meeting and had also beaten LaVille in a 2017 Class 1A regional and a 2020 Class 2A sectional semifinal in their two previous postseason meetings.
Pioneer coach Adam Berry noted that LaVille had wanted to beat the Panthers for a while.
“Really from the start, in all phases, they beat us,” Berry said. “You can’t really pinpoint one area. They just simply were more physical all the way around. … It was one of those things where we had a great week of practice, probably our best week of practice overall. It was just one of those things where it did not translate to the game on Friday.”
The shutout loss was Pioneer’s first since a 29-0 loss to Lewis Cass in 2013 and their first in a postseason game since a 20-0 loss to Lafayette Central Catholic in the 2009 sectional. It was also Pioneer’s first loss in which the IHSAA mercy rule – specifically, the running clock – was enforced since a 43-8 loss to Lewis Cass in the 2019 sectional.
Pioneer had 117 yards of total offense but also committed five turnovers. LaVille scored 17 points off turnovers.
Sophomore Lucas Plummer threw the touchdown pass to Wagoner and also kicked a pair of 35-yard field goals and five extra points.
LaVille already had Pioneer down 20-0 when they scored two touchdowns in a 13-second span to build the lead to 34-0.
When a Brock Robinson fumble led to a 5-yard DeWitt touchdown run with 9:16 left in the third quarter, the lead was 41-0, and the clock started running.
Plummer’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Wagoner opened the scoring as Wagoner spun around in the end zone and adjusted to Plummer’s deep ball.
On the ensuing possession, Pioneer went for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 33, but quarterback Caleb Sweet was stopped for no gain.
“Going down two scores early against a top-notch defense in the state is tough,” Berry said. “It starts with their nose guard (Mason Stepp). He creates some havoc. We thought there would be a hole, but he would fight across the line of scrimmage, and he would close the hole. And we simply couldn’t block their inside linebackers. They were flying to the ball and just making plays.”
Two plays later, DeWitt went off right tackle for a 20-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.
“That’s obviously big,” LaVille coach Will Hostrawser said. “And especially early in the ballgame, kind of setting the tone. They stopped us on our first drive, and then our kids responded on defense and played very well.”
A Collin Czarnecki interception led to Plummer’s first field goal with 18 seconds left in the first quarter.
After a Pioneer punt, Plummer completed all four of his passes on the next drive. (A holding penalty negated a fifth completed pass.)
Plummer then capped an eight-play, 39-yard drive with a field goal from the right hashmark to make it 20-0.
Then came what might have been Pioneer’s nightmare scenario.
Facing third-and-1 from their own 10, LaVille stopped Cayden Hill for no gain and called their last timeout with 57 seconds left in the half.
Pioneer’s Dillon Odom punted, and LaVille’s Owen Smith made a fair catch at the Pioneer 34.
A 10-yard pass from Plummer to Czarnecki and a 20-yard pass from Plummer to Wagoner gave LaVille a first-and-goal from the Pioneer 4.
Despite having no timeouts, LaVille ran up the middle on the next play, and DeWitt tore through a hole to make it 27-0.
On the first play of the next drive, Sweet faked a pitch to Hill in motion headed left. He then turned around and aimed a screen pass to Robinson on the right.
But Wagoner got in the way. He picked off the pass and ran 24 yards for a touchdown to make it 34-0.
“Things turned in a hurry,” Berry said. “We saw their backers, their line really flowing to our rocket. The players even noticed it. We tried to hit them with a screen, and 12 (Wagoner) just made a play. He sat on it, made the play and credit to him.”
Hostrawser said Wagoner was told to stay on the back side of the play.
“Back side, he was hot, but then he had a dead call,” Hostrawser explained. “Once we saw that they were going the other way and the guy was sitting, we had practiced against screens and stuff. He read it perfectly, and the result speaks for itself.”
LaVille 41, Pioneer 0
Pioneer 0 0 0 0 – 0
LaVille 17 17 7 0 – 41
LV – Ross Wagoner 27 pass from Lucas Plummer (Plummer kick)
LV – Paul DeWitt 20 run (Plummer kick)
LV – Plummer 35 FG
LV – Plummer 35 FG
LV – DeWitt 4 run (Plummer kick)
LV – Wagoner 24 interception return (Plummer kick)
LV – DeWitt 5 run (Plummer kick)