BOURBON – The only person who was happy to see a sideways snow and 30 mile-per-hour winds minutes before kickoff of the sectional football game between Triton and LaVille was LaVille head coach Will Hostrawser. With an offense perfect for bad conditions, the Lancers did exactly what Hostrawser wanted in a grinding 15-0 win over the Trojans Friday night in the Class 1-A Sectional 41 semi-finals.
Making no bones about wanting to run the ball, LaVille attempted just one pass all game and ran for 195 yards. With a slicing wind from the north cutting right up the field, going north would prove tedious while going south created adventure. LaVille just kept pounding the ball between the tackles and forced Triton to stop it. On just two occasions, the Trojans couldn’t.
The first was a circumstance of the wind. After Triton’s Joey Corder had rocketed a 78-yard punt with the wind in the first quarter, his first attempt into the wind in the second quarter wasn’t nearly as effective. His kick went straight up, then sideways and eventually backward, netting just one yard and giving the Lancers prime field position at the Triton five. It took Mason Leed just one carry to cover the five yards and a 7-0 lead.
“The difference in the ball game was when they had that punt in the second quarter that came back that put us in good position,” said Hostrawser. “Mother Nature was bad, but I don’t think we realized how bad until we got out there.
“We’re an ugly football team. We’re not one that is going to come out and bust a big play. We are three yards and a cloud of dust style of offense. When I heard it was going to be rain and windy, possibly snow, I was happy as a lark.”
LaVille’s second touchdown came on a botched punting situation in the third quarter. Corder, who was given read option clearance on fourth down, opted to not punt with the wind and instead passed. The attempt, however, landed incomplete and the Lancers claimed the ball at the Triton 42.
After converting on fourth and one at the Triton 18, LaVille’s Ben Norton capped the drive with a two-yard plunge, and Norton added a two-point run to put LaVille up 15-0.
Triton’s offense never got going in the second half, and overall only gained 98 total yards on LaVille, which wasn’t much better than the 88 gained in the team’s first meeting back on Oct. 3, a 31-0 loss to LaVille.
“Anybody that’s been around football long enough knows that you can run for a while, but eventually they are going to shut it down,” said Triton head coach John Johns. “When they do, you have to capitalize by hitting a pass, and we couldn’t do that. That shot us in the foot.”
LaVille did quite a job on Triton’s biggest weapon, Jeremy Jones, holding the prolific running back to just 50 yards on 23 carries. Jones had very little running room all evening, and with it, went Triton’s offensive chances. Grant Stichter hit just 4-of-11 passes for 29 yards, ironically three of them into the wind.
The Lancers had Norton rush for 60 yards and Mason Leed lead all backs with 74 yards. LaVille’s leading rusher, Ethan Kertai, came into the game with 940 yards but was held to just six by the Trojan defense.
“They are a good team,” Johns said of LaVille. “They are going to give (Winamac) a heck of a game.”
Triton closes out its season 3-8 while LaVille moves to 8-3 and playing for its first sectional title since 2003.
Winamac, the No. 1 team in 1-A, whipped No. 4 Whiting, 34-14, to give the Lancers a mighty task in next week’s sectional championship at Winamac.