Week 3 preview: Pioneer seeks to avenge sectional loss vs. ranked LaVille
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
LaVille (2-0, 1-0 Hoosier North) at Pioneer (1-1, 1-0), 7:30 p.m.
Junior fullback Rylahn Toloza might symbolize the improvement of the Pioneer offense from Week 1 to Week 2.
In a 16-0 loss to Lewis Cass in the opener, he had 21 yards rushing. In a 38-0 win over Winamac last week, he had a career-high 184 yards and scored four touchdowns.
His career day included a 74-yard touchdown run in the third quarter in which he shot through a hole on the left side of the line and sped away from the Winamac defense.
Toloza impressed coach Adam Berry with the yardage he picked up after first contact.
“It showed that they can do it if they do things right,” Berry said when asked about the confidence of both Toloza and his offensive linemen. “We stressed that after the Lewis Cass game: Do your job and get better at your job each week and good things can happen. We still showed we have a lot to work on, but the offensive line, they just kept communicating. They made some in-game adjustments, and obviously, Rylahn ran extremely hard.”
Berry called his offensive linemen, two of which are freshmen, “very smart” and knowledgeable of the rules they are taught when learning the offense.
“We’re just really focused on that intensity and what it really takes to establish that block,” Berry said. “We’re going to continue to do that because like I said, they know what they’re doing, they just need to continue to be more aggressive at it. And they’re coming along.”
While greater intensity is the objective of the offensive line, the LaVille trio of quarterback Lucas Plummer, running back Paul DeWitt and wide receiver Owen Smith will test the Pioneer defense that is allowing eight points per game.
DeWitt ran for 152 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-0 win over Pioneer in last year’s Class 2A sectional final. Berry calls him a “workhorse.”
Smith has three receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns so far in two games this season, and he also had 47 yards on just five carries in a win over Triton last week.
Plummer is a junior who is in his third year on the varsity.
LaVille has scored 98 points in two games, and they had over 200 yards rushing and over 200 yards receiving in a 56-14 win over Triton last week.
“A lot of these guys, you’ve seen on the depth chart in previous years,” Berry said. “Some of them are three and four-year starters. They are senior-dominant with a lot of juniors behind them, and you can just tell that they’ve had big-game experience. … They don’t get shook up a lot out there because they’ve been through it all. … They really do have everything you want in an offense – size on the line, dual-threat runners and a passing game. It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but I think our defense is up for it.”
Berry also praised freshman safety Eli Guffey for his communication skills and “football savvy” and calling out coverages and what he sees. The defensive staff has even rolled Guffey up to a linebacker role at times.
Pioneer has never lost a Hoosier North home game, and they have never lost a regular season game to LaVille.