Week 5 preview: After beating Caston, improved Hammond Central next for Pioneer
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Pioneer (2-2) at Hammond Central (3-1), 8 p.m. Eastern
The Pioneer pass defense had its ups and downs in a 50-14 win over Caston last week.
They gave up a 75-yard touchdown pass from Landon Shafer to Oliver Trigg when a Pioneer safety misjudged the ball and Trigg got behind the defense.
If that was a disappointing aspect of the defense, then the highlight might have been Peyton Schnurpel returning an interception 53 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
“It’s one of those where coach (Matt) Vianco got on him earlier in the game about simply not getting to a spot, not sprinting out to his coverage,” Pioneer coach Adam Berry said. “And that showed what can happen when you do what you’re supposed to do. It was a great read by him on the pass. He sprinted out to where he needed to be, and he executed.”
If Schnurpel’s pick-six was a defensive highlight, then the offensive highlight was Rylahn Toloza’s 270 yards and four touchdowns rushing.
“He made a lot of things happen,” Berry said. “He got to the second level, broke a tackle, made one move and went. But I would also say he was hitting the hole like we wanted him to as well. We always stress that it may not be where you want it, but you have to trust it. He’s starting to do that. That was nice to see. Anytime you have 270 yards, you’re doing something right. It was nice to see him get to the edge and have that breakaway speed for us.”
The next obstacle for Toloza and his offensive teammates is a Hammond Central defense that held South Bend Clay and Highland to six points combined in their last two games.
The Wolves allowed 40 or more points five times last season, including in a 46-19 loss to Pioneer at The Pit last year.
This year, they are allowing only 16 points per game, and as a result, Hammond Central already has more wins this year (three) than last year (two).
This is Hammond Central’s second year as a school. It is a consolidation of the old Hammond High, Gavit and Clark high schools.
“It looks like they’re just simply starting to mesh as a team,” Berry said. “They’re starting to understand what their coaches want out of them, and that’s showing on film.”