It sure didn’t start well. But, wow, what a finish.
The Chesterton football team dug themselves a 21-0 hole early in the second
quarter and then stormed back with 31 unanswered points en route to a 31-21
Duneland Athletic Conference victory over arch-rival Valparaiso on Friday
“I don’t know if I’ve been in a game where we’ve come back from 21 down,”
Chesterton coach John Snyder said. “It shows me a lot about our kids. They
don’t quit. They fought their butts off and got back in the game.
“We’re obviously very excited about the win.”
The Vikings dominated the first 13:30 minutes of action thanks in part to
sophomore running back Stephen Simms. Simms scored twice on runs of six and
51 yards. He finished the night with 12 carries for 137 yards.
“The Simms kid is as quick as anybody I’ve ever seen,” Snyder said. “We had
a lot of trouble early just trying to contain him.”
A 5-yard TD run by Valpo quarterback Paul Andrie made the score 21-0 at the
10:30 mark of the second quarter, then things changed.
Chesterton quarterback Chris Katsafaros found Joe Troop down the middle of
the field for a 62-yard touchdown pass. And after forcing a punt, Katsafaros
found Troop again down the sideline for 78 yards and a score to pull the
Trojans within 21-14.
“I think they blew a coverage on the first one and once he gets it they
aren’t going to catch him,” Snyder said. “The second one, the corner just
missed it, and again they aren’t going to catch him. The two plays were
huge. The crowd gets excited. The kids get excited and they start believing
they can come back. “Your halftime speech is a lot different down seven as
opposed to 21.”
The teams came back from halftime and the momentum carried over.
Chesterton took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and put together an
11-play, 5:33 drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown plunge by Zac
Katsafaros was the top ground gainer on the drive with six carries for 50
yards. On the night, the junior quarterback gained 166 yards on 26 carries
while completing 7-of-9 passes for 172 yards.
“We just had to identify what they were giving us and if we had to call five
plays in a row, we were going to call five plays in a row unless they
changed,” Snyder said. “They’ve always done a great job against us, so it
was just finding something that worked.”
The long drive seemed to put a damper on the high-powered Valpo offense as
well as the Vikings immediately went three-and-out.
“We got them out of a rhythm by keeping them off the field,” Snyder said of
the only three plays Valpo would run in the third quarter.
Katsafaros went right back to work as the Trojans took over on their own
24-yard line. A 13-play drive that took the clock all the way to the 10:22
mark of the fourth quarter resulted in a 23-yard field goal by Kyle Schmidt
and a 24-21 Chesterton lead.
“He’s growing and learning every week,” Snyder said of his signal caller.
“When things are going well, it’s easy to be in command. We’ve learned over
the years that you have to be able to throw some. Valpo is so good inside
that we knew we had to get the ball to the perimeter.
“We tried early with some sweeps and they overplayed it like we thought they
Valparaiso moved the ball to the Chesterton 40-yard line, but an incomplete
pass on fourth and three turned the ball back over to the Trojans.
Chesterton took 6:00 off the clock as they executed an 11-play, 60-yard
drive that culminated in Katsafaros scoring from four yards out around left
“You want your kids to have the mentality that they can’t lose,” Snyder
said. “These guys know how to win. We took some hits and some shots early.
We easily could have laid down, but they didn’t.
“We shut them out for three quarters and a lot of that was we started to
control the ball on offense.”
Valparaiso had one more chance, but an interception by AJ Snyder salted away
“That’s a proud papa moment right there,” Snyder said. “He’s a player. He’s
a Chesterton Trojan. I’m excited, but it’s a little more special because of
who he is.”
The Trojans improved to 4-1 on the season and 3-0 in Duneland Athletic
Conference play. Chesterton and Lake Central currently share the top spot in
the race for a DAC title.
“We’re halfway through the season,” Snyder said. “We’ve got a tough road the
rest of the way. We’ll enjoy this tonight and then try to get back to work
and make a run at this thing.”
The Trojans return to the field next Saturday night when they travel to
Portage for a 7 p.m. kickoff before returning home to face LC on Sept. 30.
“If you win, the fans will come,” Snyder said. “It’s great to have the big
crowd here at home. The first week they came to see the field. Now, I hope,
they’re coming to see the team on the field.”
First Downs 15 18
Rushes-yards 24-178 46-222
Passing yards 173 172
Comp-Att-Int 13-30-1 7-9-0
Total Yards 351 361
Penalties-yards 3-25 3-25
Punts-avg. 3-31.3 3-32.0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
SCORING BY QUARTERS
Valparaiso 14 7 0 0 -- 21
Chesterton 0 14 7 10 -- 31
V -- Stephen Simms 6 run (Ryan Nix kick)
V -- Paul Andrie 5 run (Nix kick)
V -- Simms 51 run (Nix kick)
C -- Joe Troop 62 pass from Chris Katsafaros (Kyle Schmidt kick)
C -- Toop 78 pass from Katsafaros (Schmidt kick)
C -- Zac Jenks 1 run (Schmidt kick)
C -- Schmidt 23 FG
C -- Katsafaros 7 run (Schmidt kick)