Triton, LaVille look to build, Glenn still searching as Week 2 commences
Three new head coaches made their debut with area football teams last Friday night. Two got ‘W’s under their belts and will look to carry that winning momentum forward, while one continues to search for his first victory against his alma mater as Week 2 gets underway Friday night.
TRITON (1-0) vs NORTHFIELD (0-1)
BOURBON — Coaches often say that when you look back at the game film, a win is never quite as good as it seems and a loss is never quite as bad as it seems on Friday night. Last week, the Trojans got the win over Caston, but first-year head coach John Johns still saw some things that his players can improve on in that season-opening victory.
Triton put up 18 points in the second quarter to break a 0-0 stalemate, tacked on another score in the third, but had to hold on through a 13-0 fourth period by the Comets for the 25-13 win. Because of that late letdown, Johns and his staff are stressing conditioning and focus in preparation for the Trojans’ Week 2 match-up with Northfield at home Friday night.
“What we took away from the game was it was a learning moment for us. There were a lot of things that we discovered while we were playing, so that’s been one of the most important things that we’ve looked at. Every time you look at a game you’ve played as a coach, I think back to the people who coached me and the man who coached me in college. He was a great man and he used to more or less tell us three things: Be proud of what you did, understand the things that you did not do well, and be willing to change them,” said Johns.
“Anybody that watched our game, they are very aware that we got tired in the fourth quarter. We’re pretty thin with numbers. We have a lot of kids on the sideline, but we have a few people that are ineligible and a couple others that are injured and can’t play. So to try and keep up with our conditioning has been a point of emphasis this week and just correcting the mistakes. These are high school kids, and anybody who’s ever played the game, you were a kid when you were in high school and you made mistakes. Most of the mistakes that you make in the game you make just because you get tired and you stop remembering things that you’re supposed to remember. We’ve all been there and done that. So one of the things that we’re trying to stress now is just trying to instill a little more focus so that they can remember things that they should to help them be a better player.”
Northfield enters Friday’s match-up in Bourbon at 0-1 after a 39-13 loss against Bluffton in Week 1. Johns expects the Norsemen to run some misdirection plays, and he hopes to counter their physicality with team speed.
“I think they bang heads pretty well. We think they’re kind of a blue collar-style team,” said Johns. “They do a nice job hiding the football in the backfield with some of their counteraction stuff. They run downhill really well. As far as matching up, I feel like we’re pretty quick defensively so we’re kind of hoping to maybe counteract some of that physical aggression with some of our speed — not to say that we’re not aggressive; we’ve got quite a few guys on our team that are good hitters.”
As far as the momentum question, Johns downplayed the impact a win in Week 1 might have on his team’s Week 2 match-up Friday night. While he says he’s proud of his team’s effort and happy to get the win, that was then, and Northfield is now.
“Each week itself is a battle; they don’t necessarily tie together. I’ve been around long enough that I’ve seen teams, they’ll put together five, six wins in a row and they start flying high and all of a sudden somebody comes in and cuts the legs out from underneath them because they weren’t really ready,” said “. I think that’s one of the things you stress, that each week is a new week and anybody you play on any given Friday night or Saturday afternoon can come in and beat you as easy as you can beat them. It’s just one of those things where we need to make sure that we’re prepared to play the team that we’re going to play because I think they’re a pretty good football team.”
LaVILLE (1-0) at TRINITY LUTHERAN (1-0)
SEYMOUR — LaVille’s football program is one that has struggled to find success in recent years.
The Lancers own just three wins between the 2010-12 seasons, including an 0-for-10 mark in 2011, and LHS Athletic Director Will Hostrawser knew he had his work cut out for him when he took the reins of the Lancer football program this season.
So he got back to basics and kept things simple. That proved to be a winning recipe for the team in Week 1 as the Lancers ran roughshod on South Central (Union Mills) in a 31-0 romp in Lakeville last Friday night.
“I preach to the kids week in and week out that we’ve got to do what we can do and control what we can control. The kids in building this program back, we’ve been very focused on the fundamentals and we drill them on fundamentals every single day,” said Hostrawser. “When those fundamentals become second nature to the kids they’ll get confidence in their abilities. When they get confidence in their abilities they’ll go out and look right and left, and when they get confident in the guys to their right and left, then as a team we start to believe in each other. Then we become dangerous.”
LaVille and Trinity Lutheran started their series just last year, with the Lancers getting their only win of the season, 56-14, at home, and they’re hoping to be equally successful as they hit the road for Trinity in a rare Saturday night game in Week 2. In order to do so, Hostrawser said his O line is going to need to play aggressively to pick up the blitz. First and foremost, though, his defensive secondary will need to stay disciplined and avoid giving up big yardage on the deep pass.
“Trinity, last year we were very successful against them, and that was our only win so this game could be a trap game for us,” said Hostrawser. “We’ve got to be focused in practice. They throw the ball 80 percent of the time. They line up in shotgun, they spread the field out, and we must defend the pass this week.
“They have a lot of fast, skilled kids, and on the film that I’ve seen they got behind the defenders against their opponents so we’ve got to make sure that we’re prepared to take that away from them.”
Another potential stumbling block for the team is the long bus drive down to Seymour. A change in routine can also throw players off, and Hostrawser is hoping his players can stay focused for the Cougars.
“One thing that I’ve tried to establish this year is a routine. This week is different because our routine is broken in a sense,” he said. “There’s positives and negatives to it. You get the extra preparation. This week it was kind of nice to have our first JV game in three years and having those kids play a game and get film and watch themselves on film was a good teaching point for them. Our routine as a varsity coming back together with the JV today (Wednesday), everything’s just pushed back a day, and we’ll be out Friday night scouting instead of coaching.
“Saturday we’re going to have to leave early in the afternoon, and any time you put kids together on a bus for four hours, that’s not really normal so we’re going to have to overcome that as well. There is an extra day of practice; it was nice to drill… but then coming in Saturday afternoon and jumping on that bus for that long trip, that’s going to be interesting.”
JOHN GLENN (0-1) vs JIMTOWN (0-1)
WALKERTON — Anyone who’s familiar with Jimtown football knows the name Sharpe.
First-year John Glenn football coach Dave Sharpe is himself the son of legendary Jimmies coach Bill Sharp and an alum of Jimtown football. But as the Falcons’ Week 2 match-up with his alma mater in Walkerton Friday night approaches, the Glenn boss is approaching the game just like any other.
“To be honest with you, it’s business as usual,” he said. “We prepared for North Judson for about three months since the beginning of June, and to come out of there with a loss was very devastating for all of us. So it doesn’t matter who we play, we’re very hungry to get our first win.”
The Falcons enter Friday’s Northern State Conference game reeling from a 25-7 season-opening loss on the road in North Judson. Glenn jumped ahead 7-0 in the first quarter but was held scoreless in the remaining three frames while giving up four scores to the Bluejays, and the Falcons recorded just eight first downs and 140 rushing yards for the game.
But the loss wasn’t as bad as it might seem at first glance, and there were things Sharpe says his team can take away from the loss.
“We had a lot of positives in Week 1 versus North Judson,” he said. “We looked back at the film and kind of found out we’re a few plays away from breaking that game open. I give North Judson a lot of credit, they made a lot of big plays in the third and fourth quarters to really gain control of the game. We just have to learn from that experience and know that when the opportunity is there we have to seize it because if we don’t momentum will swing to the other team, no matter who we’re playing.”
One positive the Falcons can take away from last Friday’s defeat is a lesson in learning to stop the run. Jimtown is known for its smashmouth style of football, a style the Bluejays also used to good advantage against Glenn in Week 1. Consider it one to grow on.
“It’s a huge positive playing a team that likes to pound it like North Judson does because Jimtown, they’re going to come right at us, and they’re going to run the ball probably 90 percent of the time,” said Sharpe. “It was definitely very beneficial to play a team as physical as North Judson to help us prepare for this week.”
And of course, this Friday’s game takes on added significance as an opener to the NSC season. Historically, the conference champion hasn’t given up more than one loss, if that. Also historically, that champion has often been Jimtown. It’s an opportunity to break into the NSC win column early while taking one away from a team that’s bound to be a contender for the Northern State crown as the regular season winds down.
“Obviously, Jimtown has great tradition, and we know we’re going to be in a long four-quarter game,” Sharpe said. “They have a lot of good players, and we have a lot of good players, so we’re really looking forward to Friday night.”
In other area action…
After consecutive series wins the past two seasons, Bremen suffered its first loss to Plymouth since 2009, a 34-13 defeat at home in Week 1. The Lions (0-1) will be looking for revenge on the road against a Tippecanoe Valley (0-1) team that handed them a physical 21-7 loss in a special Week 2 game at Conseco Fieldhouse last season.
Culver Military Academy (1-0) is coming off a 36-29 defeat of Tippy Valley in Week 1, meanwhile, and will play on the road versus an ultra-athletic NorthWood (1-0) squad that snapped a 10-game regular-season win streak by Jimtown by a thrilling 21-20 margin at home in Nappanee last week.
Culver Community (0-1) travels to South Central (Union Mills) (0-1) as both teams attempt to find their first win in a clash between Sectional 41 foes.