Week 9 football preview: Winners of 3 straight, Winamac heads to Triton
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Winamac (4-2, 2-2 Hoosier North) at Triton (3-4, 2-3), 7 p.m.
The Winamac football team began their season with a shutout win over North White. Then they lost two straight to LaVille and North Judson.
Since then, they have won three straight, including a 28-8 win over Caston last week. They are allowing under 11 points per game during the winning streak, and all three opponents were held to under 300 yards of offense.
Caston’s Sam Smith caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from Landon Shafer last week, and that had more to do with Smith than poor defense, according to Winamac coach John Hendryx.
“We’ve had to play the option a few times this year, and I thought that was probably the best we’ve played it,” Hendryx said. “The issues we had with Caston were really not with that. We gave up a big play on a screen, and that didn’t have anything to do with getting your keys watched. We had eight guys off the line of scrimmage. The guy just made a great play, a great run.”
Offensively, Hendryx acknowledges that Winamac lacks speedy, elusive skill position players who can score from anywhere on the field. Hendryx calls those types of players “home run hitters.”
Still, getting Kyle Olds back from injury has helped improve the offensive line. And they have to help each other out.
“I think our running backs are becoming better blockers,” Hendryx said. “I don’t think that’s something they’ve done a ton of before. They’ve got to do that a lot now, and I think they’re starting to take a little pride in it. When you’re a running back and it’s your turn to carry it, you want your other running backs to help you out by doing their job. And I think that’s one of the keys really. They’re doing a really good job for each other blocking for each other.”
While Winamac has won three straight games, Triton has lost three straight, including a 22-18 loss to Knox last week in which Triton never trailed until a Cade Short touchdown run in the final minute of the game.
“The thing that impresses me, the first thing that we see is that they’re really big,” Hendryx said of Triton’s defense. “Really big. Their front four, they’re a big concern because of their size. They’re not just big kids that don’t move. One of those kids is also the tight end on offense. He’s big and athletic. Knox got very fortunate. You watch that game, and you’re not sure how Triton didn’t win.”
Triton also has switched to a wing-T offense this year under coach Rodney Younis. Senior Hunter McIntyre and sophomore fullback Trace Schuh are key contributors in the Triton backfield.
“They run it pretty good,” Hendryx said. “They’ve got really good skill guys. And again, big linemen. Really big linemen. They’ve got a freshman quarterback (Cole Shively) that runs the offense well. They present a lot of problems.”
Winamac beat Triton 23-20 last year on Max Murray’s last-second field goal. However, Triton has won four of the seven matchups since they became conference rivals in 2015. That includes sectional wins for Triton in 2017 and 2018.