CHESTERTON | With Avery Beeks already sidelined and Tyler Gillespie seeing butterflies following a first-quarter collision, Colin McEuen's number was called in the Chesterton backfield.
The Trojans senior responded with a career night in possibly his final home game, racking up 151 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries to fuel a 31-3 romp of Valparaiso in a Class 6A Sectional 2 opener.
"One guy goes down, it's next man up. That's been our motto all year," McEuen said. "It felt good running the ball, but it's not about one player. It's about the team. The credit goes to the offensive line. They were creating big running lanes. I was just trying to do what I could do."
While Cole Teal did most of the damage in the first half, churning out 114 of his 122 yards, the second half belonged to McEuen, who logged 17 totes for 110 yards after the break, when the Trojans outscored Valpo 21-0. He scooted 14 yards up the middle to extend a 10-3 lead in the third, then scored from the 10 in the fourth quarter.
"Colin made a couple great cuts, but it was all about the offensive line's performance," Chesterton coach Mark Peterson said. "Coach (Rob) Kania has done a phenomenal job with those guys, keeping them ready to go. They gave us the chance to execute a lot of that. Cole was a great game manager."
While the Trojans (4-6) rushed for 303 yards, the biggest number for Peterson was a zero, as in zero turnovers.
"That was the difference in the ball game," Peterson said. "We talk about it in film, watch tape. Mentally, it's about not trying to press. That's the nature of our offense. We're going to be in positions where we have to execute. We've seen glimpses of it throughout the season of what we're capable of when we execute."
Depleted Valpo (3-7) led 3-0 through a quarter on a Jared Smolar 23-yard field goal on its first possession, but couldn't sustain a passing game to counter Chesterton's ground attack. Collin Vinyard rushed for 109 yards for the Vikings, who topped the Trojans 21-14 in the regular season.
"They had a nice scheme. It was the same thing they did last time," Valpo coach Dave Coyle said of Chesterton's wide line splits. "When things fall apart, it can get ugly. It seems as if it's been one thing after another all year long. The kids continued to work as if we were undefeated. It's just unfortunate it has to end this way."
Teal added a second score in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard keeper, set up by Jordan Dilosa's interception.
"Jordan did a great job from his corner position," Peterson said. "Andrew Ralph came up on run support. Jaycee Jensen, Luke Finke, Ranbir Signh, hats off to those guys. They progressed and played very well all season. We've had some bad things happen, but it's not so much about the journey as it is the destination, and we've reached another destination."
That will be at No. 1 Penn next Friday.