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  • Val T.

Week 2 preview: After dropping opener, Winamac seeks to even mark against ‘Rans’-happy Pioneer


Sports Editor, RTC

Pioneer (1-0, 0-0 Hoosier North) at Winamac (0-1, 0-1), 7 p.m.

Pioneer lists 29 players on their roster, but only 14 saw the field in last week’s season-opening 29-22 win over Lewis Cass.

The Panthers scored 21 points in the fourth quarter after trailing 14-8 after three quarters.

“Really, it was still very positive,” Pioneer coach Adam Berry said when asked to recall the mood on the sideline going into the fourth quarter. “One thing that I was very impressed with our team on Friday night (was) there were two times we got down early on – in the first quarter and the third. Both times, we battled back. You know, they didn’t hang their heads. Like I said, they were saying positive. They knew they were still in the game. And that’s what you want to see out of your team. And at halftime, we talked about how it was going to come down to the fourth quarter, and that’s what happened. So very proud with how they responded after being down and how they recovered.”

Micah Rans ran for 90 yards and two touchdowns – all on option runs – and he also made all three extra point tries after Pioneer had not attempted one in six years.

Then there was the story of Blair Burns, a 216-pound freshman lineman who played the entire game.

“He’s one that started getting after it a little bit more in the weight room, started building some confidence in that aspect,” Berry said. “In our June scrimmage, he showed flashes. Having to be on vacation in the July scrimmage, we couldn’t really see where he was there, but we just kept going back to that June scrimmage where hey, he looked pretty good.

“We had some things happen. We had some guys where we thought they were going to be able to play. They were game-time decisions but ended up not being able to play, and we had the next-man-up mentality. He was rotating in throughout the preseason but really thought of him as hey, maybe if a guy needs a break for a series or two, get him in there. But he showed Friday night, he can play varsity football. He picked up some blitzes extremely well for us that very easily could have dropped our guys for a loss but instead we got good yards off it.”

Winamac is coming in off a 42-0 loss to Class 3A, No. 17 Knox. They managed just 58 yards of offense.

“I thought especially up front that they were just ultra aggressive,” Winamac coach Josh Burgess said of Knox’s defense. “And our kids didn’t respond to that very well. I thought that was the key to the game. … We kind of settled in, but especially early in the first half, we didn’t deal with that very well, and I thought that was the big key to the game.”

Now they will face a Pioneer defense that was able to pull out a win despite allowing 238 yards rushing to Lewis Cass. Burgess calls Pioneer’s slanting defense “aggressive” and “very quick with their front.”

Maddox Bucinski had a team-high 39 yards rushing against Knox.

“Maddox is a big part for us,” Burgess said. “He’s one of the leading returning rushers for us. He can play multiple positions for us defensively. He does a nice job. He’s a smart kid. He understands multiple positions. Offensively, we can play him at fullback or a wing. Defensively, he played some outside linebacker last week, but he can play any of our defensive back positions too, corner or safety. So it’s nice to have a kid like that. … We can move him around week to week.”

Winamac’s Jadon Jones will miss the game due to a concussion.

The teams have split their last two meetings. The 2020 meeting was canceled due to the pandemic.

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