It was easy to hear the excitement in Mark Peterson’s voice.
“We have a great nucleus of kids and I really love this team,” the
Chesterton head football coach said. “They’ve really bought in to what we
are trying to do and they are taking the strides and doing the things that
need to be done to get better.”
The Trojans will get a chance to see where they stand in a dress rehearsal
Friday night as they host the Lafayette Jeff Bronchos in a scrimmage at 6:30
“Comparing last year to this year, we don’t have the same experience back,
but physically we are doing some of the same things and that’s very
encouraging,” Peterson said.
Offensively, the Trojans will get a huge boost from the return of senior
Avery Beeks who missed six games last season with an illness.
“Avery’s back in good health and ready to roll,” Peterson said. “When he was
out last year, it really limited our 1-2 punch of him and Tyler Gillespie.
Having those two in the backfield will be a focal point for us.
“They are two high-quality players and high-quality kids. We’ll call their
number a lot and they are excited about it too.”
The duo will have a new offensive line to run behind as Chesterton tries to
replace four starters up front.
“Jackson Heard is the lone returner, but Luke Cota has seen some time over
the last couple of years as well,” Peterson said. “Sean Charlson, James Van
Drie, Spencer Stachrya and Dan Cutter really working hard to solidify the
other three spots. Getting those four new guys to step up is a key for us.”
The Trojans also lost quarterback Cole Teal, but have confidence in junior
Garritt Slatcoff to do the job.
“Garritt (Slatcoff) has really taken a step forward to earn the starting
job,” Peterson said. “He worked really hard through the summer and fall
practices and got a lot of playing time the last couple of years on JV. I
think he’ll step right in and pick up right where Cole left off.”
Chesterton’s running game was good all year last season, but will have to
take a step forward in the passing game.
“We have some kids doing a really good job on the outside with Austin
Stickler and DaVielle Stewart,” Peterson said. “Colton Tuzinski has really
worked hard and found his way into the rotation. Keegan Fulk and Evan
Pearson have also stepped up early in the season.”
Defensively, the Trojans return seven starters and should be solid at every
“With seven guys back, you have to really feel good about where you are,”
Peterson said. “There’s some competition for some spots and that’s only
going to raise our level of play.”
Up front, Garrett Walker and Ranbir Singh will man the defensive end
position with the trio of Armondo Millard, Derrick Hardin and Jackson Heard
seeing time in the middle.
“With Garrett and Ranbir, along with that trio of guys in the middle, we
have a really nice nucleous,” Peterson said. “Luke Finke headlines the group
of linebackers along with Andrew Davison and Dontae Rodriguez. Jordan Dilosa
leads a defensive backfield that is really solid.”
The Trojans should also excel on special teams with a talented group of
returners and Nate Needham handling the kicking duties.
“I feel really good about our special teams,” Peterson said. “Nate Needham
is a retuning junior who has some experience and keeps gaining confidence in
field goals and in punting. With Avery (Beeks), Tyler (Gillespie), Jordan (Dilosa)
and a few other guys back returning kicks, we really feel like we have some
guys that can be game-breakers.”
The regular season kicks off next Friday when the Trojans host South Bend
St. Joseph’s at 7:30 p.m. After a trip to Munster, the DAC opener is Sept. 5
at home against Michigan City.
“I think the DAC is one of the top two or three 6A conferences in the
State,” Peterson said. “The conference will have a lot of teams that are
lumped together this year with a lot of kids lost to graduation. I think we
are just as competitive as anybody else.”