Chesterton Tribune

Chesterton - Valpo football rivalry renews Friday

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By TR HARLAN

V-A-L-P-O!

That’s really all that has to be said this week around Chesterton High School as the Trojans prepare for Friday night’s game against the Valparaiso Vikings.

“I think the rivalry is a huge factor Friday night,” Chesterton coach John Snyder said. “We get to see what our kids are made of. At the end of last Friday night’s game, the kids were already talking about Valpo. That tells me that they’ve been looking ahead to this one.

“Valpo doesn’t like us and we don’t like them. We’ll see who gets bragging rights.”

Both teams enter the contest tied atop the Duneland Athletic Conference at 2-0 along with Lake Central.

“We’ve talked about it a little bit, but it’s still so early in the season that we can’t look ahead at that stuff,” Snyder said. “We’ve gone through the easiest part of our schedule and everybody from here on out is really good.”

The Vikings bring in a two-game winning streak after early season losses to No. 3 Penn and No. 2 Carmel.

“We are preparing for them just like everybody else we play,” Snyder said. “We know what they do, they know what we do.”

Valparaiso lost running back Bryon Duncan to a knee injury last week against Michigan City, but still feature All-Area performer Andrew Kittridge at running back and senior quarterback Paul Andrie.

“They have great running backs and a returning starting quarterback who is throwing the ball really well,” Snyder said. “They have big wide receivers and an offensive line with four seniors.”

After giving more than 500 yards off offense to South Bend St. Joe in week one, the Trojans haven’t allowed 500 combined yards in the last three contests.

“We’ve done a good job of stopping the run the last three weeks, but they are really going to test our secondary,” Snyder said. “We can’t overcommit secondary people to help stop the run. You have to handle their running game with your front seven. We have to keep people in front of us and not give up the big play.

“Make them work the ball down the field and hope they make a mistake.”

The easiest way to stop the Viking offense will be for Trojan quarterback Chris Katsafaros and the offense to control the clock.

“In every game, our goal is to control the ball with our offense,” Snyder said. “That gives you more looks at how they are trying to stop you. We aren’t going to get a lot of big plays against their defense, nobody does. We can’t make mistakes or put ourselves in third and long.”

Katsafaros has rushed for a team-best 365 yards on 54 carries, while Zac Jenks has 293 yards on 43 carries. Both have accounted for four touchdowns.

“Offensively, we’ve had a lot of trouble putting points on the board against them the last couple of years,” Snyder said. “We have to find some ways to get some things open and back them off a little. We’ve got to put some pressure on their secondary more than we have in the past.”

That means finding mismatches.

“The key is to find some mismatches,” Snyder said. “We have to get our best athletes on their weaker defensive players. That’s the case every week.”

The Trojans top ‘mismatch’ is junior Joe Troop. On the year, Troop has carried the ball 27 times for 261 yards, while catching a team-best seven balls for 142 yards.

And, yet, as good as the skill people on both sides of the ball for both teams are, it’ll be the big guys up front that make the difference.

“Up front is where the game will be decided,” Snyder said. “Valpo’s offensive and defensive lines are very good with a lot of seniors. It really will come down to us matching the physical play that Valpo will bring.

“And I won’t know until Friday night if we are ready for that test.”

 

 

Posted 9/15/2011