By S.E. SHEARER
LAKEVILLE, IN. – Put in an ever-changing situation all the way up until game time, the LaVille football team never backed down in its Hoosier North Athletic Conference contest against Triton at Lancer Field Friday.
This game was a dogfight from the beginning.
This rivalry started back in the Northern State Conference days and continues today as these players know each other on the field and off the field.
After battling through a scoreless regulation, Class 2A #15 LaVille found the end zone and held off Triton for a 7-0 overtime victory.
LaVille would get the ball first to start the overtime session.
Lancer quarterback Lucas Plummer was able to work his way for six yards off the left side on first down to set up a second and four. The LHS offense then tried Paul DeWitt, but DeWitt was stood up on the right side of the line of scrimmage for no gain.
Staring at a third down from the Triton four, Plummer faked a handoff to get the Triton defense moving right and proceeded to keep the ball, go left and dove to the goal line and put the first points on the board for either side some 123 plays into the game.
Plummer added the point after to give LaVille a 7-0 lead.
“The play Lucas scored on was a called play – during the previous play we noticed Triton’s defenders biting hard on the run so we felt he could outrun them to the opposite corner,” said LaVille coach Will Hostrawser. “Lucas made a play.”
Triton started its drive from the Lancer 10 by handing off to its star running back Anthony Schuh. Schuh tried the right side of the line and picked up three crucial yards to set up second and seven.
The Trojans then had an exchange issue on the snap and quarterback Cole Shively was forced to fall on the ball for no gain.
Looking at a third and seven, Shively looked toward the end zone but the field was flooded with LaVille defenders and Shively’s pass fell incomplete.
Shively and the Triton offense faced a fourth and goal from the LaVille seven. The Trojan quarterback set up in shotgun formation and tossed the ball to the far left side of the field, only to have the ball fall incomplete and end the game.
“This week was a rough one for our program – Tuesday we lost a number of players due to COVID contact tracing and we had to adjust our game plan,” explained Hostrawser. “Thursday we lost even more and had to adjust things drastically during our final practice for the week. Then again on Friday we lost a couple more players for the game and we were literally planning adjustments up until we took the field for the game.
“I am so thankful for our coaching staff – their preparation and understanding of each players’ strengths turned out to be the difference,” continued Hostrawser. “They do a fantastic job each week working with our scout unit and this week it really paid off. Despite all the missing players – we did not once waiver of our expectation to go out and win a ball game. We believe in our players and they believe in one another as well – this was a true team win. I am so proud of their effort!”
Triton made its way into LaVille territory four times in regulation, but LaVille’s defense forced the Trojans into a punt, collected an interception by Colin Czarnecki, had Paul DeWitt dive on a fumble, and held THS to a missed 47-yard field goal with 8:34 left in regulation.
“In addition to a little luck, we had numerous players step up on our defense,” explained Hostrawser. “I thought Austin Belknap, Justin Brown, Dustin Gill, Clay Borton and Nathan Kurzhal all stepped into big roles on defense. They all really did a nice job digging their heels in and playing hard all night. Erik Bedock anchored our d-line and Noah Richhart did a nice job managing things in the middle. The secondary of Cody Allen, Collin Czarnecki, Xzavian LaFave and Lucas Plummer all played well, breaking up Triton’s passing game. Our guys did a nice job making stops when they needed to.”
Hostrawser admitted his depleted squad, along with the high temperatures and humidity, taxed his Lancer squad, but was pleased as they played through the challenges.
“After we scored (in overtime), our guys had just enough gas in the tank to get stops,” said Hostrawser. “They dug their heels in deep and did a nice job getting stops. It was a nice way to end the game – getting a stop.
“It felt like a boxing match where we kept getting hit and just kept swinging,” continued Hostrawser. “We had guys playing out of position. We had guys changing jerseys to play on the line. We had guys pushing themselves to the point of exhaustion for each other. It was awesome to see the effort put forth on the field – something I will never forget.”
Given the situation and player shortage, LaVille was forced to play guys in several different positions.
“We had several guys playing on the offensive line for the first time,” said the LaVille coach. “While Triton was good up front, our inexperience showed on offense. We had to work for each yard we got – they did not come easy. We had several offensive weapons that were not available, as a result, we had to greatly simplify things.”
One strong piece of LaVille’s success was special teams.
“With our limited offensive effectiveness,” said Hostrawser. “I thought our punt unit did a nice job flipping the field which turned out to be a huge factor for us.”
As Triton lined up for what would be the final play of the game, Hostawser called what proved to be a pivotal timeout.
“Our last time out helped us adjust to their formation and put just enough pressure on their QB,” said the LaVille skipper. ?Two plays earlier, Erik Bedock got to him and I think that helped as well.
“If they were on our sideline, they all contributed to this win,” concluded Hostrawser. “Each and every player deserves credit for earning that win.”
Schuh was the Triton workhorse in the backfield, toting the ball 24 times for 112 yards. Shively, meanwhile, completed six passes for 53 yards.
Plummer led the Lancer offense, rushing 19 times for 108 yards. DeWitt added 46 yards on 18 carries.
LaVille improves to 2-0 for the third straight season and will play host to Pioneer (0-2) next Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Triton moves to 1-1 and will play host to Caston Friday at 7 p.m.