Week 3 preview: Pioneer keeps up confidence despite 0-2 start
Robinson to return for sectional rematch at LaVille
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Pioneer (0-2, 0-1 Hoosier North) at LaVille (2-0, 1-0), 7:30 p.m.
The Pioneer football team seems to exist in two different universes.
There is one universe that seems shocked that they have lost two straight games for the first time since 2013, that their 42-game Hoosier North winning streak is over after a 38-6 loss last week to Winamac and that they are unranked in the Class 2A polls.
Outsiders populate that universe.
The other universe is the one that is trying to get the team’s fortunes turned around. That’s the universe going on within the locker room and practice field, and coach Adam Berry said that there is still a feeling that those fortunes can be reversed.
“We have a captains meeting every week, and the captains, they said the team was still really upbeat in the locker room,” Berry said. “They aren’t pointing fingers at each other. So really, our confidence level for the season is still pretty high. We still think we have some really good football players. We’re playing really well on defense even though the scores haven’t really shown that.”
Pioneer has scored six points in their first two games combined. That’s their fewest points scored in a two-game span since 1992.
Berry said the per-carry average for players like Ryland Toloza is good, but they just need to eliminate the fumbles. Pioneer fumbled 11 times against Winamac. Though they lost just two of them, they had trouble sustaining any offensive rhythm.
But Pioneer gets senior fullback Brock Robinson, who rushed for over 1,100 yards last year and who also starts in the secondary, back. Some players who missed the Winamac game in quarantine – Berry said Pioneer had eight “true varsity players” with four or five other split JV/varsity players available against Winamac – are also expected back. Sophomore quarterback-defensive back Cayden Hill is “questionable” after suffering a rib injury against Indianapolis Scecina in the season opener, according to Berry.
And now they face a LaVille defense that has allowed only 12 points in two games and a LaVille team that likely remembers a 52-14 loss to the Panthers in last year’s sectional semifinal.
“Year-in and year-out, they have a good defense,” Berry said. “And that’s what they pride themselves on. Even before they joined the HNAC, they prided themselves on defense, and they’ll come out and tell you that. It’s just one of those (things), you know, they may initially get blocked, but they scratch, they claw, they do what they have to do to get off that block and still meet the running back at the line of scrimmage.”
LaVille has not had a losing season since 2013. Sophomore quarterback Lucas Plummer ran for 118 yards and a touchdown against Triton last week. Junior Paul DeWitt is a top weapon at running back.
This is Pioneer’s only regular season game against a sectional rival.