Chesterton Tribune

Chesterton Football opens season tonight against South Bend St. Joseph's

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It may appear that the Chesterton Football team is in a hurry to get to the post-season, but that’s only partly true.

The Trojans start the 2012 campaign tonight as they play host to Class 3A No. 2 South Bend St. Joseph’s with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.

“Our goal is to win the Sectional, but really we want to focus on one game at a time,” Chesterton coach John Snyder said. “We know South Bend St. Joe beat us last year and they’ve been to the State Championship game each of the last two years. They’re really good. They’ll be one of the best teams we face all year.”

The Trojans should be able to match-up with the Indians, after all, they’ve been waiting for this class of seniors to tee it up for several years.

“They’ve had a lot of success throughout their careers at every level,” Snyder said. “But, that doesn’t mean anything on a Friday night.”

Chesterton should be able to get the job done on both sides of the ball, but defensively, the Trojans return 10 starters.

“When you look at what you have coming back and you see 10 starters back on defense, that should be a real strength,” Snyder said. “Defensively we look really good.”

The Trojans will be big, physical and fast throughout the defense starting up front with Eric Madry, Trever Walker and Ryley Harlow.

“Our defensive front might be as good as we’ve ever been,” Snyder said. “With Eric Madry, Trever Walker and Ryley Harlow, we really get after it. They’re strong, quick and physical.”

That should allow a talented linebacker corps to run free sideline to sideline.

“Kevin Fekete, Luke Gipson, Dana Konchar and Julian Raudry are all really good linebackers,” Snyder said. “Our defensive front should take up enough blockers that they should get to use their athleticism.”

If teams go to the air, the Trojans return three starters in the secondary.

“AJ Snyder and Adam Polkinghorn at the corners are really playing solid and Andrew Ralph is back for us at safety,” Snyder said. “From the line of scrimmage, through the secondary, we’re physical and fast. We’re pretty solid all around.”

Offensively, don’t blink if you’re in the stands or go to the concession stand, you might miss a series. Chesterton will be running the sprint-to-the-line Oregon offense that took college football by storm two years ago.

“We’re trying to take advantage of how good I think our defense will be by getting more possessions and plays on offense,” Snyder said of the offensive change. “If we go from 45 to 60 plays a game, it’s that many more chances to score.

“By going at a faster pace, we hope to wear other teams out.”

It should also allow the Trojans to take advantage of several standout offensive weapons.

“Offensively, we have a lot of skill players back and our young skill guys look good,” Snyder said. “Our biggest losses came in the offensive line and we’ve had some injuries to some kids we were counting on. We’ll be really young up front and may have to play some guys both ways for a while to sure things up.”

Quarterback Chris Katsafaros returns for his senior year after missing part of last year with a knee injury.

“It’s Chris’s job on opening night,” Snyder said. “Chris is a gamer. He’s got a great feel for the game and knows how to make people miss. This offense is set up for a person with his skill set and his ability. He’s also throwing the ball really well and that’s great to see.”

The Trojans do have the luxury of junior Cole Teal who started half the season while Katsafaros was out.

“It’s nice that Cole has varsity game experience and I’d never have a problem with him stepping in,” Snyder said. “Chris could also play some other positions because of his ability to make plays.”

Speedster Joe Troop also will be relied on for offensive pop.

“We’ll try to move Joe around a little bit and get him the ball in space,” Snyder said. “We’d like to stretch the field with him some and take advantage of his speed. You have to account for him defensively.”

Troop won’t be the only threat in the passing game for the Trojans.

“We’ve got some other guys outside like Jacob Andrews, Mitch Kobitz and Matt Holba that we can get the ball to as well,” Snyder said. “Teams won’t just be able to take Joe away and shut us down. It’ll be difficult to cover everybody.”

The question mark for the Trojans may come in special teams. Having Troop and friends returning kickoffs and punts is a strength, but the kicking portion of the game is still a question mark.

“When you lose an All-American type of kicker, you have a hole to fill,” Snyder said. “We’ve got a freshman kid in Nate Needham that’s been doing a real good job. Chris Pabon is also getting better in that spot.”

Punting chores will be handled by Katsafaros and Teal.

“Punting-wise, Chris Katsafaros and Cole Teal are doing a nice job there,” Snyder said. “I like having our quarterbacks in that position and putting some stress on the defense.”



Posted 8/17/2012