Week 9 preview: Seeking 7th straight win, Pioneer to host North Judson in postseason tune-up
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
North Judson (6-2, 5-0 Hoosier North) at Pioneer (6-2, 5-1), 7:30 p.m.
Pioneer held up to Culver’s physicality last week and posted a 28-6 road win to extend their winning streak to six.
Culver ran the ball 48 times for 206 yards out of its power-T formation but managed just one touchdown.
“Simply going against a really physical team that’s not afraid to keep running it at us,” Pioneer coach Adam Berry said when asked how Pioneer had become better over the last week. “Culver did a great job controlling the ball. We kind of had that bend-but-don’t-break type of game on defense. We gave up a lot of yards but only ended up giving one score. … We talk to our players about perseverance. Things didn’t always go our way, but we came out on top.”
The win sets up a potentially intriguing game at The Pit against North Judson. Pioneer has not lost to North Judson since 2008 and is 6-0 against them since they became conference rivals in 2015.
Pioneer will have to be wary of quarterback Aldric Harper, who can both run the option and pass the ball vertically.
“I’d say this is since I’ve been head coach the most I’ve seen him throw it,” Berry said. “And being an option team, you’ve got to put a lot of faith and a lot of trust in your quarterback because he can give the ball, he can keep the ball, and he can pitch the ball. He has three choices he can make, and that’s their bread and butter is the triple option. It’s a position where you have to be smart and have a high football IQ, and (North Judson) coach (Brett) Lambert puts a lot of trust in him.”
Brock Robinson had 146 yards rushing and a touchdown against Culver. Berry said that was the quickest he has seen Robinson hit the holes created by his linemen this year.
With Caleb Sweet moving from left tackle to tight end to quarterback, Brenton Gaumer has taken over at left tackle, and Logan Smith has moved back to tight end, his 2020 position.
To have similar success against North Judson, Pioneer will have to try and limit the damage that defensive tackle Brennan Benson might cause.
Listed at 6-4 and 300 pounds, Benson is used to seeing double teams, and he keys a defense that has allowed just 10.5 points per game in their six wins.
“He is just a large human that can play football,” Berry said. “Sometimes when you go against guys that size at our level, they’re simply just a big body. But this is a big body that can move. This is a big body that understands the game. … He flies down the line of scrimmage from the back side. You think a hole’s there, and all of a sudden it closes up. You rewind the film, and it’s 75 (Benson) coming from the back side getting across the offensive lineman’s face and making the tackle.”