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  • Val T.

Week 10 football preview: Like a Roth to the flame: Pioneer’s D must stop streaking Delphi offense


Sports Editor, RTC

Delphi (7-2) at Pioneer (8-1), 7 p.m.

Pioneer coach Adam Berry said that defensive coordinator Matt Vianco told him that it would be a nightmare to try to prepare for Ezra Lewellen and Addai Lewellen.

The good thing for Vianco is that this is just a hypothetical situation. The Lewellen brothers are on his team.

Pioneer’s wing-T offense was once again a study in precision in their 38-13 win over Class 1A, No. 9 North Judson last week as the Blue Jays devoted their defensive resources to try and stop the Lewellens.

When Pioneer would send Ezra Lewellen or Addai Lewellen in jet motion, two or even three North Judson defenders would fly at them. That would often open up the belly play for fullback Brock Robinson.

Both Lewellen brothers and Robinson each had more than 90 yards rushing against a North Judson defense that held LaVille to just 101 total ground yards one week earlier. The Pioneer trio of backs also combined for five rushing touchdowns.

“Brock’s been just a great runner for us all year,” Pioneer coach Adam Berry said. “We had a feeling North Judson was going to try to take away Ezra and Addai, so it was the plan going in to get Brock going. And our line did a great job creating the holes, and Brock, he has great vision, and he hits the hole extremely fast. He makes his one move, and he was getting about eight yards a carry in the beginning. And so it was nice to get him going because that opened it up for Ezra and Addai.”

Ezra Lewellen also made a contribution on special teams. With North Judson facing a fourth down inside their own 20 in the second quarter, Ezra Lewellen rushed the Judson punter so fast that he couldn't even try to punt. He went down at his own 10-yard-line, and Pioneer scored on the subsequent possession to go up 20-0.

“Coach Vianco, our defensive coordinator, is also in charge of punt block,” Berry explained. “He was just watching film, and he thought we could attack the punter. We didn’t necessarily think we were going to be able to sack the punter, but we thought we could get a block. Ezra just had a great jump and almost beat the ball there. Ezra even said he was kind of confused because that was the first time he’s even been in that situation. Luckily he did end up sacking him, and that set up a short field for us and just broke the game open.”

Berry said Pioneer had a “great team effort” defensively against North Judson. They might need another one against a Delphi offense that comes into their Class 2A, Sectional 34 quarterfinal against Pioneer riding a five-game winning streak.

The Oracles scored 114 points in their last two games, wins over Clinton Central and Taylor. Historical records are sketchy, but it’s the most points Delphi has scored in a two-game span in at least 25 years.

To win, Pioneer hopes to avoid the wrath of the Roths. Delphi quarterback Jordan Roth threw two touchdown passes last week, and that came one week after completing all nine of his passes for four touchdowns against Clinton Central. Younger brother Peyton Roth ran for a touchdown and caught two touchdown passes against Taylor. Jaden Roth, who is Jordan and Peyton’s cousin, is also a factor, as is senior running back Evan Fritz, who ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns against Taylor, and junior running back A.J. Lattimore.

“They definitely want to run first, but their quarterback does show that he can throw the ball around,” Berry said. “They’re just an athletic team, and it starts with their backfield. … They do their waggles, their boots and their play-actions, and he has great weapons around him to be able to throw the ball.”

This is the teams’ first meeting since a 21-14 Pioneer win in 2002.

With school being closed this week for Fall Break, presale tickets are available at the Pioneer Regional School Corporation Administration Office from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Tickets for all sectional games statewide are $6.

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