Conference schedules start in earnest with Week 2 match-ups
BOURBON — Teams throughout the area open their conference schedules this week, and two of them — Triton and Culver — are not only looking to open up their Northern State Conference slate with a win, but are still searching for their first victories of the season.
Triton has been right in both of its losses to Caston and Northfield, while Culver Community has found itself on the wrong end of some surprisingly lopsided losses to West Central and South Central (Union Mills).
But with plenty of veteran experience on the Cavalier roster and a match-up nightmare in 6-6 Culver receiver Micah Budzinski, Triton head coach Andy Younis isn’t taking anything for granted as his team hosts Culver Friday at 7 p.m.
“Starting with Culver, you’ve got to talk about their quarterback Collin Stevens. He’s a four-year starter and he runs the option really well. He’s got the experience, he’s been down this road many times,” said Younis. “He’s got a really good weapon at wide receiver in the (Micah) Budzinski kid. He’s a match-up nightmare — he’s tall and not only just tall, but he can go get that football and has really good hands. Those two kids are definitely keys to their offense, but when you’re talking about Culver football you’re talking about trying to stop the triple option and that’s definitely a challenge for us.”
Defense has been something of a stumbling block for the Trojans this season. The young Triton lineup has managed to avoid shooting itself in the foot on offense but hasn’t always been able to get the stops when it’s needed to in Weeks 1 and 2.
“I’ve been pleased with what we’ve done but just clearly it’s not enough to win those ballgames, but you look at our stats we’ve had one fumble in two games and I think six penalties in two games. We’ve played smart football, but defensively we’ve got to get better,” said Younis.
Youth and inexperience remain obstacles for the Trojans as well, and Younis is hoping that with two games under his players’ belts, they continue to show improvement this week. A stronger-than-normal nonconference schedule has hopefully helped prepare his team for Friday’s Culver match-up.
“Going into this year we knew that this was going to be one of the best strength of schedules we’ve had in a while,” said the Triton skipper. “Usually our nonconference opponent and they had several seniors that were key for them, and the same thing with Northfield. Northfield was loaded with seniors, and we’re still playing sophomores and freshman or sophomores and juniors. We still have some youth to us. Not using any excuses, but we’ve had five defensive starters that are not starting right now for various reasons — whether because of academic issues or they don’t have enough practice time in with injuries. We’re putting some kids in that maybe aren’t ready for varsity right now and they’re having to get thrown into the fire.”
at Heritage Christian
While Triton and Culver Community both look to break into the win column this week, Culver Military Academy hopes it can keep the good times rolling when undefeated CMA travels to Heritage Christian Friday for an Eagles-on-Eagles matchup.
Heritage’s passing game is a point of concern for the Academies, but head coach Andy Dorrell is feeling cautiously optimistic.
“Heritage features an outstanding passing game. They do a very good job of spreading the ball around the field,” he said. “Their top guy Anthony Warrum is fantastic; he was All-State last year… and then there about three or four other talented receivers around him. We’re concerned but we also like the match-ups that we have with our defensive secondary, so it should be a great offense versus a pretty stingy defense.”
CMA’s defense has been an asset to the team in both of its wins over Tippecanoe Valley and NorthWood. Both games came down to final margins of seven points or less, and the Eagles defensive unit made up for two untimely turnovers by the CMA offense in the fourth quarter last week by forcing a pair of Panther turnovers to clinch a 27-20 win.
“Our team has proven that they can make big plays defensively,” said Dorrell. “Offensively, we’ve been able to move the ball pretty effectively, but we haven’t been able to put teams away. That’s a little bit of concern with turnovers and mistakes on our part, but defensively we’re at a place right now where we’ve got a lot of confidence.
“I’m very pleased with the way our defensive staff has prepared our kids — Kevin Danti, Andy Strati and John Rogers have done a great job with these kids. Offensively I think that if we can start taking care of the football we’ll make it a lot easier on ourselves.”
The Eagles already boast a road win in Week 1 at Tippy Valley, but it’s a long way down to Heritage.
The team will try to break up the monotony at the midway point to hit the field focused and ready for a fast start.
“We’re trying to leave early and get down there early. We’re going to stop and have a light dinner on the way. We’re doing some things that we’ve done in the past that kind of help break that trip up to just try and keep them focused,” said Dorrell.
“I’m excited about where we are as a team right now,” he added. “I just feel fortunate to be 2-0 right now and looking down the pike here with Heritage Christian and then Lafayette Catholic, Brebeuf, John Glenn and Churubusco and then Sheridan. We’ve got some tough games coming up and we’re just looking forward to getting better every week.”
In other area action…
LaVille snapped a 14-game losing streak with a 56-14 blowout of visiting Trinity Lutheran last Saturday, a much-needed win for the Lancers. They’ll need all of that momentum Friday as they contest Class 3A No. 3 Jimtown in an NSC opener at home at 7:30 p.m.
Bremen is reeling from a tough loss to Tippecanoe Valley at an Indianapolis Colts Horseshoe Hall of Fame Classic game last Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Lions’ first regular-season loss in 15 games. They’re hoping to get back on track at 2-0 New Prairie as both teams open conference play at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
John Glenn has struggled to put up points in its first two games, scoring just 15 points total, and the Falcons will try to correct some of those offensive woes in a match-up of winless NSC teams at Knox at 7:30 p.m.