Those are two words that teams in all sports strive for and the Chesterton
football team will have a chance to add them to their resume tonight.
The Trojans will face off against the Merrillville Pirates at 7 p.m. with a
share of the Duneland Athletic Conference title on the line.
“Going into the season, we set our goals high as far as winning a Sectional
Championship,” Chesterton coach John Snyder said. “We can’t do anything
about that until next week. If that’s the level we want to be at, then we
should have that type of opportunity in the DAC and we do.
“We’re 7-1 and for one game, one night you can tie for a conference title.”
The Merrillville offense looks a lot like the same one the Trojans saw last
season in the Sectional, a 48-45 loss.
“The fear looking at Merrillville is that they are so explosive
offensively,” Snyder said. “They find a mismatch or a weakness and then let
their speed take over. You always have to stop the run first, but
(quarterback) Raspopovich is the key. Everything goes through him.
“The problem is that when you over-commit to stop the run, they have big,
fast receivers and he can throw it.”
The Trojan defense will probably face its stiffest test of the year.
“We have to get off the blocks and then pursue to the ball,” Snyder said.
“All 11 guys have to get there and we have to get pressure up front from our
defensive line. Merrillville is big and good on the offensive line and
probably the best one we’ve played against all year.
“Our defense has only given up one touchdown all season. For our secondary,
that’s an outstanding stat.”
The Pirate defense struggled giving up points early in the season, but gave
up just 17 last week in a victory against Lake Central.
“They are getting better and better,” Snyder said. “They have always been
able to commit nine guys to stop the run. They really bring their secondary
down into the box, so we’ll have to take some shots and use play-action.
We’ve had some success doing that, but the key for us always is perimeter
“If we can block them on the outside, we’ve got some speed kids that can get
to the corner and cause some havoc.”
The biggest problem the Trojans have had offensively is hanging onto the
“Turnovers was a point of emphasis this week,” Snyder said. “Whatever the
reason, if the ball hit the ground we did some discipline things to get them
to understand that its important. I don’t like to harp on turnovers because
you think about it more.”
The Trojans will be looking for a share of the DAC title for the first time
“I don’t know the importance of it to everyone else, but I know it’s
important to the kids,” Snyder said. “They’ve worked really hard for a
chance at it. We’ve already talked to them about putting their season number
in the tunnel. They can never, ever take that away from you.”
It will also be senior night for the Trojans as 35 student-athletes will be
honored before the game.
“The unfortunate part of having a 35-man senior class, we have some quality
kids that haven’t seen as much playing time as they’d like,” Snyder said.
“This whole group is as important to me as any group I’ve ever had. I’ve had
some close relationships with some kids before, but as a group, this is more
special to me and partly because my son is in that class. I’ve watched them
Of course, the closest relationship Snyder has had is with his son AJ.
“The sad part about this week is that I’ve become Dad a few times already,”
Snyder said. “It starts to creep into my mind that this is it. I think about
AJ as a freshman and we’ve shared football and Chesterton since we got here.
For me, emotionally that’s tough.
tomorrow night before the game as Dad, but then we’ll go into the locker
room and come back out as the Trojans.”