Week 9 football preview:
After beating LaVille, North Judson looks to end Pioneer’s 6-year streak atop the Hoosier North
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Pioneer (7-1, 4-0 Hoosier North) at North Judson (7-1, 5-1), 7:30 p.m.
To get the sense of the effort that is expected of somebody who plays football for Pioneer, one needed to maybe watch only one play of Pioneer’s 54-6 win over Culver last week.
It just happened to be Pioneer’s first offensive snap. On that play, Addai Lewellen turned the corner around the left perimeter and ran 58 yards for a touchdown. And as impressive as Lewellen’s effort was, guard Tyler Gaumer’s effort might have been even more impressive. He raced down the field after delivering his block and was there near the end zone to provide even more interference as he met Lewellen near the goal line.
“Credit to our offensive line,” Berry said. “We told them in film session that if I were to give a presentation on some of the plays that we ran, I mean, I would have used some of those clips. Our line was doing a great job of staying on their blocks. And then if they made a fantastic block on the second level, they were climbing up and leading the play.
“For example, on our first touchdown, Tyler Gaumer from the backside guard position got up to the linebacker, had a block that knocked him down, and then he ran 50 yards and made another block to spring Addai for a touchdown. And so it was just great to see. Those were things we were talking about in practice, staying on your blocks. And if you get the chance to make another block, do so. And that’s just what they did So hats off to our offensive line, and obviously, Ezra and Addai reading those blocks, making people miss and using their speed to get to the end zone.”
It capped an efficient offensive performance. The ball control-oriented Culver offense had 63 offensive snaps as compared to Pioneer’s 20. But the Panthers scored touchdowns on seven of those 20 snaps.
Addai Lewellen and Ezra Lewellen combined for only six carries, but those carries ate up 287 yards. And all six of them ended up in the end zone.
North Judson, meanwhile, has won four straight games since a 14-0 loss to Knox on Sept. 11. That includes a 9-7 win over LaVille last week in which they attempted only two passes. Senior quarterback Trey Hampton and sophomore running back Cheyenne Allen are focal points of North Judson’s wishbone offense, and Payton Roberts kicked a 30-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to flip the lead after North Judson trailed 7-6.
“I think last year they were doing more triple option that you would see Navy and Army and Air Force do,” Berry said. “This year, they’re not doing as much of that, but when they do, it is very effective. Their quarterback does a great job of reading the defender, and their sophomore fullback, we felt last year he was going to be a special player, and he just got that much bigger, that much stronger and that much quicker over the offseason. He’s a force.”
However, the Blue Jays’ strength might be their defense. They are allowing only 12 points per game, a quality of North Judson’s defenses that goes back years.
“That’s just North Judson historically too,” Berry said. “Every year, it is a battle to move the ball on them. You can tell they’re just well-coached. Their defensive line, they read what the offensive line is doing, and they adjust. If the offensive line blocks down, they’re right off their butt and causing havoc. They fire off the ball, and on film, if the offensive line does not stay on their blocks, they are flying down the line and making the tackle at two yards. They’re extremely quick as a team on the defensive side of the ball.
“Most of the time they have eight or nine guys around the ball carrier.”
Pioneer is 41-0 all-time in Hoosier North play. LaVille, who travels to Culver Friday, and North Judson have one conference loss each.
Pioneer is 5-0 with five shutouts against North Judson since they became Hoosier North rivals in 2015. Pioneer has not lost to North Judson since losing a nonconference game to them in 2008.