Week 6 preview: Pioneer’s defense gets another test vs. Schuh, Triton
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Pioneer (2-3, 2-1 Hoosier North) at Triton (4-1, 2-1), 7 p.m.
Big plays were the bane of the Pioneer defense’s existence in a 46-22 loss to Hammond Central last week.
They yielded three touchdown plays of 44 yards or longer, and their special teams gave up a 73-yard punt return for a score.
“A lot of big plays, and we simply could not tackle,” Pioneer coach Adam Berry said. “A lot of times, we were in the right spot, and we’d either get one guy on him grabbing a jersey, and we just couldn’t bring him down. So it’s definitely going to be a point of emphasis this week in practice.”
Offensively, Rylahn Toloza had his third 100-yard rushing game of the season, and he now has 688 yards on 7.2 yards per carry. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown. But Pioneer also committed three turnovers.
“It’s hard for this team to make those up right now,” Berry said.
Berry said the offensive linemen know what to do “95 percent of the time,” but the challenge is bringing the intensity and low pad level necessary in order to sustain drives.
Berry would also like to improve the passing game, which he said has been plagued by incorrect route running, drops and penalties that negated big completions.
Against conference and sectional rival Triton, the challenge will be trying to move the ball against a Triton defense coming off a 42-0 shutout over Culver.
They have allowed only 16 points total in their four wins. Berry complimented Trojan senior linebacker Reilley Wood, “a 205-pounder that can move.”
The Triton offense revolves around quarterback Cole Shively and fullback Anthony Schuh, who already has 938 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns in five games. It has helped the Trojans move into the top 10 at No. 10 in this week’s Associated Press Class 1A poll.
“Obviously, we haven’t seen him in person, and we haven’t seen every team in person yet, but he’s arguably the best running back definitely in the conference,” Berry said of Schuh. “But once again, that’s to be determined. … If he is not the best, he’s definitely up there. We saw him last year as a sophomore, and he was a workhorse. Obviously, he hit the weight room. You see he’s 6-1, 215, and he runs like he’s 185.
“We’re going to have to try to get him down near the line of scrimmage because he’s extremely tough to bring down once he gets going full speed.”
Pioneer is 8-0 against Triton since they became conference rivals in 2015, including a win in the 2018 regional and a 26-6 win in Royal Center last year.