Week 9 football preview: After loss to Pioneer, Culver to host LaVille
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
LaVille (4-1, 3-1 Hoosier North) at Culver (2-6, 1-5), 7 p.m.
Last week’s 54-6 loss to Class 2A, No. 3 Pioneer might have been proof that time of possession might be an overrated statistic.
Culver had more than three times as many offensive snaps (63) than Pioneer (20), but by the time they got a first down, they were already trailing 40-0 in the second quarter.
Shane Shuman led Culver with 129 yards rushing. But it was the Pioneer ground game that averaged 26 yards per carry.
“We didn't get a first down in the first quarter, and time of possession can be not a big thing when they get one or two-play drives that result in touchdowns,” Culver coach Mike Zehner said. “We just gave up too many big plays. We really didn’t tackle the Lewellen twins (Ezra and Addai) all night. I guess that was the frustrating part. When we did start getting some first downs and did get some drives going, we put together there in the second quarter a seven-minute-plus drive that didn’t result in any points but ended up running the clock out. And then in the second half, it was a running clock when we were down 40-0 at halftime.
“Pioneer, they’re just obviously on another level. They’ve got a great, special senior group, and I’ve been friends with coach (Adam) Berry for awhile now, and he’s been excited about this group when they’re seniors. As he should be. They’re hands down the best team in 1A, but playing in a 2A sectional, I think they’ve got a pretty good shot and could make a little run here. They’re ranked third in 2A for a reason, and they’ll be the best team we’ll see all year.”
LaVille, this week’s opponent, is also coming off a loss, dropping a 9-7 decision to North Judson at home on a late field goal.
Freshman Lucas Plummer is the quarterback, and he relies on seniors at the skill positions in Andrew Dill and Evan Bettcher.
Plummer’s season was highlighted by a game against Knox in which he threw for 276 yards and four touchdowns in a win.
“They just put him in positions to be successful,” Zehner said of Plummer. “They’re running a spin series offense. They’ll actually snap the ball to him, and he’ll actually spin his back to the defense and (have him) fake handoffs and do some stuff. I actually played with that before settling on the T. It’s kind of a wing-T series but with some single-wing concepts. So it’s interesting. They’ve got some athletes. The Dill kid, they can throw it up to him, and if you don’t cover him, he’ll make some nice plays.”
LaVille has won the last eight meetings against Culver, including sectional games in 2016 and 2017. They edged out the Cavaliers 13-8 last year in Lakeville.
Regardless, playing Pioneer and LaVille figure to prepare Culver for their postseason opener at Lake Station next week.
He said these games will go a long way towards telling them whether they are “pretenders or contenders.”
“You put so much time and effort into something, and then obviously to look as bad as we did on Friday, it’s frustrating as a coach,” Zehner said. “You always worry about that mood as a coach. But we came to practice on Monday, and our kids lifted hard. We had a great week of practice. I’ve been impressed with that aspect of our team. When you get down and you’ve only won two games and you’re facing tough opponents like Pioneer and LaVille, it’s easy to get down, but I haven’t seen that from our team. That’s probably the most exciting thing I’ve got out of the last couple weeks.
“Our kids come to work. They’re ready to play, and just their attitudes have been awesome.”