Week 2 preview: Pioneer seeks more offense against visiting Winamac
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Winamac (0-1, 0-1 Hoosier North) at Pioneer (0-1, 0-0), 7 p.m.
Fans attending the first Pioneer home football game at The Pit might notice the newly installed bleachers – they also hosted a scrimmage against Northwestern two weeks ago but this is the first home game of the season – and might be hoping for the old offense.
The Panthers were limited to 102 yards of offense and committed four turnovers in a 16-0 loss last week to Lewis Cass. Pioneer also lost 41-0 to LaVille in last year’s sectional final, so the back-to-back shutout losses mark the first time that has happened since 1992.
Pioneer coach Adam Berry said the first turnover, which came on a fumble on the team’s first possession, was crucial. One of the two interceptions came on a deep pass on third-and-long, and the other came during a two-minute drill where the Panthers had to take risks while trailing by 16 points.
“Really those didn’t necessarily hurt us as much as the mental mistakes,” Berry said. “Offensively, the mental mistakes just killed us – running the wrong play, not lining up in the correct formation. Those hurt us more than our turnovers.”
Asked about how freshman offensive linemen Noah Van Meter and Tyler Schnurpel handled the Friday night lights, he said any mistakes they might have made were not more glaring than anybody else’s mistakes.
“Our offense was just nonexistent overall,” Berry said. “So hopefully after this Friday, we’ll get a better idea of how they’re going to perform.”
Pioneer will try to avenge a 38-6 loss to Winamac last year. Winamac lost 54-19 to Knox last week but did manage over 250 yards of offense.
Sophomore Cash Roth will look to hand off to running backs like Jadon Jones, Maddox Bucinski, Brody Wall and Max Gearhart.
“Watching him on film, he can sling it,” Berry said of Roth. “He has great poise for a sophomore. He’s not afraid to stand in there and throws a great ball, and he has athletes with some speed who will catch it. And so, you look on paper, and you’re going against a sophomore quarterback, but when you put him on film, he does not play like a sophomore.”
Pioneer has not lost at home to Winamac since a 28-14 loss in the 2013 regional.