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  • Val T.

Week 9 preview: Pioneer seeks to stop 4-game skid vs. 1A, No. 5 North Judson


Sports Editor, RTC

Pioneer (2-6, 2-4 Hoosier North) at North Judson (7-1, 5-1), 7:30 p.m.

Fullback Rylahn Toloza again led the Pioneer offense with 85 yards rushing and a touchdown, but the Panthers were held to 151 yards of offense in a 28-8 loss to Culver at The Pit last week.

The loss was Pioneer’s first ever loss to Culver.

“Obviously, it wasn’t the greatest,” Pioneer coach Adam Berry said. “But I feel like a broken record saying the same thing week in and week out: We hurt ourselves.

“First possession, we’re driving the ball and then we’ll have a penalty, we’ll get a sack because we don’t pick up a blitz, and that just seemed to be what happened all night. … Between sacks and penalties, we were close to double digits. … It’s just something that can’t happen, especially when you get down in a game.”

Defensively, Pioneer will have to adjust from facing Culver, which relied on fullback Shane Shuman and quarterback Jason Cadle to North Judson’s triple option attack.

Quarterback Aldric Harper can keep it himself, or he can hand uit off to running backs Brock Benson and Cheyenne Allen, who have combined for 1,427 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns.

“They run that nice academy triple option offense, and they run it really darn well,” Berry said. “They put a lot of trust in their quarterback Harper to make the right play. … You watch on film, and he gets a great ride with Benson, and 95 percent of the time, he makes the correct read. It’s one of those where Benson, he may be only a sophomore, but he runs like a senior. It’s hard to bring him down. He’s going to get his four yards, and then he’s going to break some.

“Harper does a good job in their triple where Allen’s the pitch man, and he does a great job of reading his second key and pitching it to Allen. They’re doing a true triple option, and it’s hard to do at the high school level. You can tell they work on it, they focus on it, and they run it extremely well.”

The Blue Jays suffered their first loss last week, falling 27-21 in overtime to LaVille. Still, they have been ranked in the Associated Press top five all season, and they check in at No. 5 this week.

Pioneer and North Judson have met annually since 2007. Pioneer holds a 16-1 series advantage over that time, including seven conference games and sectional wins in 2015 and 2016.

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