Week 4 football preview: Caston, Pioneer looking to rebound after losses
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Caston (1-2, 0-2 Hoosier North) at Pioneer (2-1, 0-0), 7 p.m.
Caston had a 12-point lead slip away in a 14-12 loss to Triton last week.
Pioneer had a 16-point lead slip away in a 32-28 loss to New Haven last week.
So some team will get a bounce-back win this week.
Odds figure to be with Pioneer. After all, they have not lost consecutive games since losing to Lewis Cass and Winamac to open the 2013 season. They have never lost a Hoosier North game since the formation of the conference in 2015. Caston hasn’t won a conference game since 2016.
And perhaps most importantly, they have not lost to Caston since 1996.
“I think fatigue was a little bit of a factor, but just going back and reviewing the film, we made more mental mistakes this past week than we did in Week 2 (a 20-16 win over Chesterton),” Pioneer coach Adam Berry said. “And so I think that hurt us a little bit as well. And you know, when we beat Chesterton, we had some things go our way. We popped a big play when we needed to. We completed a pass when we needed to. We got a turnover when we needed to. We just didn’t have those things either this past Friday.”
Caston took a 12-0 lead on a Damian Sullivan 91-yard punt return and a Smith touchdown run but struggled after that.
“For some reason, we just kind of let up a little bit apparently,” first-year Caston coach Will Porter said. “Our defense gave up a drive that ended up in a score. Our offense was struggling a little bit all night. We were able to get some stuff here and there, but then they stopped us again and were able to get on another drive and punch it in for a second time. … We’ve got to work on playing solid for four quarters. Then after that, we came back and made a stop and we actually had possession of the ball. We just ran out of time at the end, but it was definitely that quarter that ended up causing us a lot of problems.”
Asked about the offensive line’s play against New Haven as compared to Chesterton, Berry said they took “a little step back.”
Meanwhile, Porter said his team struggled to generate a rushing attack out of their triple option offense. With Landon Shafer out, Porter rotated quarterbacks. He has decided to go with Grant Hickle at quarterback this week. Shafer will see playing time both offensively and defensively, but he won’t play quarterback.
As for this week, Berry praised Smith, who has been on the field for most every play on offense and defense since his freshman season.
“You can tell he has just improved that much more each year,” Berry said. “You can tell he’s an upperclassman. He seems more comfortable. I think he’s playing with more confidence. He can be a threat to score any time he touches the ball.”
On the other hand, the Caston defense will try to stop a wing-T offense for a second straight week. Porter is aware of the lopsided nature of the rivalry over the past 24 years and respects the consistent quality of Pioneer’s program.
“Triton was a wing-T team,” Porter said. “They stayed pretty consistent in what they were doing. But we definitely expect Pioneer to run it more efficiently than Triton was running it. Triton did a fair job running it as well, but we know what we’re in for. … They’re just solid. They’re a good program.”
Berry said senior running back-safety-kick returner Ezra Lewellen rolled his ankle against New Haven but that he and all varsity players will be a “full go.” Freshman Javon Frost, a key practice and scout team player, is out with a broken wrist.
Caston’s Pete DuVall, brother of 2020 Caston grad Sam DuVall and a freshman who has seen time at the center spot, will not play due to a bone bruise suffered in practice, according to Porter.