Week 4 preview: Caston defense seeks to rebound against Pioneer’s ‘wildcat’
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Pioneer (1-2, 1-1 Hoosier North) at Caston (1-2, 0-2 Hoosier North), 7 p.m.
The Pioneer football team got Brock Robinson back for last week’s game against LaVille after he missed the first two games with an ankle injury.
How they used him was totally different. A fullback who ran for over 1,100 yards last season as as a junior, Robinson was essentially used as a wildcat quarterback against LaVille.
He ran 41 times for 167 yards and the game-winning touchdown in a 12-7 win.
“On Monday and Tuesday, we had two quarterbacks try to take snaps under center, and it just wasn’t 100 percent clean,” Pioneer coach Adam Berry said in describing the week of preparation for the LaVille game. “And so, we had Brock back, obviously one of our better playmakers. And so we just tried to figure out a way to get the ball in his hands. So we figured why not just snap it directly to him.”
Berry said the offense was a similar look to when Ezra Lewellen was the quarterback in 2019 and to the three years before that when Jack Kiser helmed the Panther offense. He said the blocking schemes are essentially the same whether the ball is snapped under center or out of the shotgun.
Caston coach Will Porter noticed as much. He views it as facing a wing-T offense again, just as they did against Triton in a 35-16 loss last Saturday.
“I think we’re pretty much taking it as just a version of the shotgun stuff they did when they had Jack Kiser,” Porter said. “Just the idea that they’re going to snap the ball to the back. They’re still running their wing-T plays. It’s just out of the shotgun set. And instead of having the quarterback back there, they’re having the fullback do it. Definitely a concern for us. It’s going to be a tough game because we’re going to have to be focused on stopping the wing-T. That’s what Triton was running, which was causing us some fits.”
Offensively, Caston ran for over 250 yards against Triton. Both quarterback Grant Hickle and fullback ran for over 120 yards. All three turnovers led to Triton touchdowns.
“That’s basically our go-to, and they both did a fine job of running hard,” Porter said. “Outside of a few fumbles, that was the biggest miscue of the day. That was the biggest drawback of the game.”
Berry has noted on film the effectiveness of Hickle and Smith in Caston’s attack. Hickle is known for his legerdemain under center.
“Just watching their film, three are sometimes where I think Smith has the ball, and the quarterback makes the right read and pulls it and gets around the corner,” Berry said. “So he’s running that offense really well. It’s not an easy offense to learn as a quarterback, but he’s doing it extremely well, and it’s hard to prepare for and hard to stop as well.”