In a game with 922 yards of offense and 10 offensive touchdowns, its was a
defensive stand that made the difference.
The Chesterton defense stopped the Merrillville Pirates just inches short of
a first down on fourth-and-five with 2:27 to play to earn a share of the
Duneland Athletic Conference regular season title 40-35 Friday night.
“I’m extremely proud of the kids,” Chesterton coach John Snyder said. “To be
able to bounce back after a pretty physical beating against LC and come back
and beat an unbelievable team like Merrillville is really great.
“It’s a great feeling to share a part of this.”
The Trojans built a 40-28 lead with 8:09 to play before the Pirates started
their fourth quarter comeback.
A 43-yard touchdown pass from Merrillville quarterback Jake Raspopovich to
Aaron Day cut the lead to 40-35 and an ensuing onside kick was recovered by
the Pirates with 6:57 to play.
Raspopovich led a nine-play drive that led to the Chesterton 14-yard line
with 2:27 to play. On fourth and five, the Merrillville quarterback hit
Brian Jenkins over the middle down to the nine.
After the first down chains were brought onto the field--the Trojan defense
had held the Pirates just inches short and took over possession.
“That fourth down play was extremely close, but our defense stepped up and
made a play,” Snyder said. “We’ve relied on them all year and they continue
to come through when the time presents itself.”
The Trojans were able to run out the clock thanks in part to an 18-yard
bootleg run by Chris Katsafaros that clinched the victory.
“Chris called the bootleg himself,” Snyder said. “He’d called it earlier in
the game and we didn’t run it. He just decided he was taking the ball and
making a play. That’s what senior quarterbacks do.”
After the offenses traded punts on their first possessions of the night, the
Pirates got on the scoreboard first with a 26-yard pass from Raspopovich to
Day. Raspopovich finished the night 18-of-31 through the air for 311 yards
and three touchdowns.
The Trojans answered immediately as Joe Troop busted loose for a 75-yard TD
run that tied the game at 7-all. Troop finished the night with 207 yards
rushing on 11 carries. He also caught four passes for 33 yards.
“I just had to become a smarter coach and get the guy the ball,” Snyder
said. “Teams always try to take him away and some other guys stepped up.
Give our line a lot of credit against a pretty physical team. I don’t want
it to be the Joe Troop show, but it’s just dumb not to get him more
“He’s too good a player to not touch the ball more.”
A three-yard touchdown run by Raspopovich pushed the Pirate lead to 14-7 at
the end of the first quarter before CHS tied the game at 14 with a 40-yard
pass from Troop to Mitch Kobitz.
“What a great catch Mitch Kobitz made,” Snyder said. “I’m really happy for
him because its his first touchdown of the year. That was just a big, strong
kid going up and ripping the ball away in traffic.”
Chesterton took its first lead of the game at the 1:31 mark of the second
quarter as Andrew Ralph stepped in front of a pass from Raspopovich and
returned it 39 yards for a score and a 21-14 halftime advantage.
“The interception by Ralph for a touchdown before the half was huge,” Snyder
said. “We come out and score again to start the third quarter and now they
are chasing two touchdowns. That’s a huge difference and they can score in a
That third quarter drive started with a 43-yard run by Troop and culminated
in a Katsafaros score from one yard out and a 28-14 lead.
“We got to basics a little more and ran more of the true option,” Snyder
said. “It’s always hard against Merrillville because their team speed is so
amazing. When you’ve got a guy like Joe (Troop) that can run like they do,
it equals things out a little bit.”
Chesterton’s Jon Horvath scored from eight yards away sandwiched between a
pair of Pirate touchdowns to set the score at 34-28 heading into the fourth
“Tonight, I learned that this did mean something to them,” Snyder said. “I
wondered if just winning a share was enough or if they’d look ahead to the
Sectional. I was happy that they wanted it and came out and performed.”
Horvath’s second touchdown of the night at the 8:09 mark pushed the
Chesterton lead to 40-28. The drive’s key play came on fourth-and-five from
the Merrillville 24-yard line when Katsafaros hit Troop for eight yards and
a first down.
“The ability to convert on some fourth downs was really big tonight,” Snyder
said. “I rolled the dice. I didn’t feel like we had anything to lose. If we
lose the game, everybody expected us to. If we get it, we give ourselves a
chance to win.”
Friday night’s victory was Chesterton’s first over Merrillville in the last
10 tries. The Trojans last victory came on Oct. 13, 2006 in a 22-13 win.
First Downs 15 14
Rushes-yards 37-162 45-366
Passing yards 311 83
Comp-Att-Int 18-31-1 6-11-2
Total Yards 473 449
Penalties-yards 6-54 4-28
Punts-avg. 4-36.0 2-41.5
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Merrillville 14 0 14 7 -- 35
Chesterton 7 14 13 6 -- 40
M -- Aaron Dye 26 pass from Jake Raspopovich (Matt Warren kick)
C -- Joe Troop 75 run (Nate Needham kick)
M -- Raspopovich 3 run (Warren kick)
C -- Mitch Kobitz 40 pass from Troop (Needham kick)
C -- Andrew Ralph 39 int return (Needham kick)
C -- Chris Katsafaros 1 run (Needham kick)
M -- Raspopovich 6 run (Warren kick)
C -- Jon Horvath 8 run (kick blocked)
M -- Daniel Jankuloski 34 pass from Raspopovich (Warren kick)
C -- Horvath 2 run (pass failed)
M -- Day 43 pass from Raspopovich (Warren kick)
Crown Point 7
The Chesterton freshman football team picked up a solid 39-7 victory over
Crown Point on Thursday.
The scoring began on the Trojans second possession when Garritt Slatcoff hit
Niles Dilosa on a 43-yard touchdown pass. Slatcoff then called his own
number and scored on a 23-yard run.
Chris Kaptur returned a punt 56 yards and the point-after-touchdown by Sam
Tilden pushed the lead to 19-0. After Dilosa scored from the one-yard line
and the six-yard line, the score was 32-0.
Chesterton’s final score came as Matt Estill hit Dilosa from 18 yards away.
Defensively, Armando Millard, Luke Finke, Tony Zelenika, Luke Zelenika and
Brandon Delvalle led the way. Rhys Lewis added an interception in the