The proverbial “preseason” is over.
The Chesterton Football team opens up Duneland Athletic Conference play
tonight as they host Michigan City. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“The last two opponents have been very solid programs and gives us a good
start to the season and a nice challenge, but the conference is such a
different challenge,” Chesterton coach John Snyder said. “The size of the
kids we play now is different. We expected to be 2-0 at this point and now
it’s time to get going in conference play and work toward our goals down the
The Wolves return 14 of 22 starters from last year and have made
philosophical changes to their offense and defense, but Snyder is much more
worried about his own team.
“Michigan City returns more starters than anybody we play on our schedule,”
Snyder said. “They are big, strong, physical and athletic. City poses a
different problem for us and I don’t know if our kids realize how good they
“But, I’m most worried about us. This early in the year, you look at if we
are at the point we should be. If we’re not, then you have to look at
changing some things.”
The glaring weakness for Chesterton has been fumbling. The Trojans have
fumbled nine times this season, losing three.
“I haven’t been happy at all with the fact we keep putting the ball on the
ground,” Snyder said. “It continues to happen in practice too. We have to
put more of an emphasis on protecting the football.”
The Trojans put their own new system into play offensively this year with a
hurry-up to the line of scrimmage plan. The offense has rolled up 747 yards
of offense (524 rushing, 223 passing) through two games and is averaging
more than 6.4 yards per play.
“In the first game, there were several mistakes by the players and coaches
in our new scheme,” Snyder said. “Game two there were less mistakes.
Hopefully, now in game three, we’ve rectified those.”
Joe Troop leads the team on the ground with 153 yards on 16 carries and
three touchdowns. Quarterback Chris Katsafaros has 135 yards on 22 carries.
Chesterton has had 10 different players carry the ball this season.
“When you look at Joe (Troop), he scored three touchdowns early last week,
but really wasn’t involved much after that,” Snyder said. “He’s so good that
other teams are constantly calling out where he is and shifting their
defense toward him. The nice thing is that we know that and we can get some
other guys into a place where they can make some plays because of what Joe
creates for us.”
Katsafaros has also been good through the air, including last week’s
12-of-14 performance against Munster. On the year, the senior has completed
21-of-35 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
“Chris spent a lot of time in the off-season becoming a better passer,”
Snyder said. “I was really happy with the way our receivers turned the ball
up the field and got some extra yardage. Teams are going to have to respect
our passing game.”
Michigan City’s new defensive scheme is a 3-3 Stack according to Snyder that
could cause some problems for the Trojan offense.
“Defensively, they’ll probably try to bring people from everywhere and
disrupt things for our offense,” Snyder said. “And they can do that. They
don’t give up a lot of yards on the ground and that concerns me.”
Michigan City’s offense will rely on the athleticism of their playmakers to
try to score against a Chesterton defense that has been dominant.
“Offensively, they’ll try to take advantage of their athleticism and a good
quarterback,” Snyder said. “He can run and throw, so they’ll spread the
field and try to throw it on us a little more.”
The Trojan defense has allowed just 454 yards of offense through two weeks,
including just 153 rushing yards on 65 carries (2.35 per rush) and 301 yards
through the air on 30-of-52 passing.
“Our guys have really just decided to play and get after it,” Snyder said.
“That’s fun to watch. They are so good, even in practice, that it’s helping
our offense. Lake Central, Crown Point and Valparaiso all have good
defenses, but I think our defense is as good as anybody.”
Special teams should continue to be a strength for the Trojans as well. Nate
Needham is 7-for-7 in points-after-touchdown’s and connected on his only
field goal attempt of the year (27 yards).
In the return game, Troop returned Munster’s first punt last Friday night 80
yards for a touchdown.
“Nate Needham and Chris Pabon are brand new to kicking and I’m very pleased
with the way they are progressing,” Snyder said. “But, our return game is
really a strength. If they kick the ball to us, we’ve got a chance to score
or at least put ourselves in good field position.”