That’s the precursor for week two of the high school football season Friday night as area teams have one final non-conference contest to prepare them for the main course of league play starting Aug. 31.
Warsaw, fresh off a season-opening win at Columbia City, faces the biggest test of the week as the Tigers welcome Homestead to WCHS. The Spartans have had just one losing season (2-7 in 1994) since the program started in 1970. Homestead has won at least 10 games each of the last 15 years.
Wawasee looks for a 2-0 start with a home game versus Class 3-A No. 8 South Bend St. Joseph’s. The Indians have been Class 3-A state runner-up each of the last two seasons, losing to Indianapolis Bishop Chatard both times.
Tippecanoe Valley will have to wait until Saturday to try and even its record at 1-1. The Vikings, who dropped a tough 27-22 final at home to Culver Military last Friday night, play Class 2-A No. 6 Bremen in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis as part of four games in the Horseshoe Hall of Fame Classic at the home of the Colts.
Here are a glance at area games on tap this week.
Homestead (1-0) at Warsaw (1-0), 7 p.m.
Warsaw coach Phil Jensen would love to see his Tigers play keep away Friday night.
“We need to keep the ball away from them, play field position and time management,” said Jensen. “Homestead has a lot of weapons and they want to make it a track meet. They are a momentum team so it’s important for us to get off to a good start.”
The Spartans were 10-1 a year ago, including a 51-7 win over the Tigers. Homestead opened the season with a 53-12 win at Huntington North last week. The Spartans scored 46 unaswered points in the final half.
“Our kids are smart and they know that Homestead is very good,” Jensen said. “We got a taste of success last week and our confidence level is up. This is another opportunity.”
Warsaw beat Columbia City in its opener thanks to a near record performance by Tristan McClone. The junior in his first varsity start rushed for 295 yards and three touchdowns on 43 carries. The Tigers physical defense also shut down Eagles star Jared Murphy.
“I was really pleased with our blocking last week,” noted Jensen, who collected the 100th win of his coaching career. “That was huge. We got after them. And our defense played pretty aggressive too.”
Homestead is led by senior receiver Isaac Griffith. The 6-0, 185-pound IU recruit earned All-State honors in 2011 with 60 catches for 1,112 yards and 22 touchdowns. Matt Skowronek, a 6-2 senior, is the new quarterback for the Spartans, replacing Zach Terrell. Terrell, who is now at Western Michigan, fired 38 touchdown passes a year ago. Skowronek was 12-22 passing for 99 yards with a touchdown pass to Griffith in the opener, while Grayson Bastin rushed for 92 yards and three scores in the Homestead option attack.
“Homestead is a little different this year in that they are more balanced,” said Jensen. “Last year, they threw the ball all over the field.”
St. Joe (0-1) at Wawasee (1-0), 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors will get to see how they stack up as they welcome the Class 3-A No. 8 Indians to Syracuse.
St. Joe, which was No. 2 in the preseason poll, has put together back-to-back state runner-up finishes. The Indians of coach Ben Downey have lost to Indianapolis Bishop Chatard each of the past two years in the final 3-A game of the season.
The ground game will be a big key Friday night. The Warriors rushed for 293 yards in a 20-7 win at Whitko last week, while St. Joe allowed 315 yards rushing in a 24-7 loss at Chesterton.
Wawasee got big performances from its trio of quarterback DJ Semon and backs Derrick Sorenson and Gabe Rhodes in the season opener. Semon ran for 130 yards on 13 carries, including a 92-yard scoring scamper. Sorenson rushed for 82 yards and Rhodes 80 with each scoring a touchdown in the win at Whitko.
The Indians, who beat Wawasee 12-3 a year ago, are led by junior quarterback Matt Monserez. The 6-6 signal caller was 22-37 for 210 yards in the opener last week.
Triton (0-1) at Northfield (0-1), 7 p.m.
Triton coach Rodney Younis saw plenty to like from his young team in week one despite a 28-20 loss at Caston.
“I saw a lot of positives last week in that we had no turnovers and not very many penalties,” said Younis. Our focus this week is to get out of the blocks more aggressively from the start. We were too passive in the first half last week.”
“Northfield will definitely be a challenge. They have a good senior class and a big fullback (Andy Roser, 5-10, 200). Time of possession will be critical. We have to try to get them off the field. These first two games this year are probably the toughest first two weeks since I’ve been here.”
Northfield, which beat Triton 43-20 in 2011, lost 20-19 at Bluffton last Friday night. The Norsemen feature a strong ground game, led by Roser.
The Trojans will still be without two key players in juniors Jayden Mosier (wrist) and Ben Perkins (concussion).
“They are making progress, but both are still out this week,” said Younis. “Ben will likely be back next week and we hope to have Jayden back maybe in a couple of weeks.”
Columbia City (0-1) at Whitko (0-1), 7 p.m.
No time to panic.
That’s the message coach Wayne Swender delivered to his Whitko team this week despite a 20-7 season-opening home loss to Wawasee.
“The No. 1 thing for us is to not panic,” said Swender. “It’s a long season and we just need to focus and take one week at a time. At times, we played pretty well last week. We just shot ourselves in the foot. We need to minimize our mistakes.”
“We’ve went back to some basic fundamentals and have practiced pretty good this week. There’s been a little more intensity. Columbia City is a good, solid team. They are big, strong and fast and have a big threat in Jared Murphy.”
Whitko, which lost 34-21 at City last season, may be without Devin Gerding. The sophomore running back is questionable for Friday night due to a knee injury.
Tippecanoe Valley (0-1) vs. Bremen (1-0), Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium
Despite all the hoopla surrounding the opportunity to play in one of football’s best venues, Tippecanoe Valley coach Jeff Shriver has one thing on his mind.
“The most important thing for us is a win Saturday,” said Shriver. “This is a business trip in that our No. 1 focus is on how to win a football game and get back on track.”
The Vikings had missed opportunities in a 27-22 home loss to Culver Academy in its opener.
“We had opportunities to win that game,” Shriver said. “We did not play to our potential. We have a lot of work to do, but our kids are resilient. We know we can be a very good football team. It’s all about being concerned with our improvement. If we do that, then the scores will take care of themselves.”
Bremen opened the season with a 42-26 win over a Plymouth team shorthanded due to the suspensions of several players. The Lions, who graduated a host of players from its 13-1 team of 2011 which won the NSC, Class 2-A sectional and regional titles, impress Shriver.
“Bremen will come into Saturday extremely high and extremely confident and they should be,” said Shriver, whose team lost 48-20 to the Lions in 2011. “It’s important that we match their intensity. The key for us is to control the line of scrimmage. We want to throw the ball when we want to throw it.”