If football players from Pioneer and Winamac needed any extra motivation to get bigger, faster and stronger this summer, they just got it.
The Panthers and Warriors will play their annual Week 2 showdown at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The small-school football powers will take part in the Lucas Oil Showcase in the first of four games on Aug. 30 at The Luke, the home of the Indianapolis Colts. Pioneer and Winamac will square off at noon.
Both Pioneer and Winamac have aspirations of also playing there much later in the season for the state championship.
Last season Winamac defeated Pioneer 28-14 in a regional championship game at The Pit.
In their regular-season matchup Winamac ended Pioneer’s 47-game Midwest Conference winning streak with a 34-8 win at Roudebush Stadium.
Winamac has to regroup from losing a strong senior class from last year’s semistate team. Among the key losses is 2,100-yard rusher Tyler Katschke, who will represent the Warriors as a linebacker at the North-South All-Star Classic on July 18 at North Central High School. Katschke will play collegiately at Manchester University.
Levi Schultz (WR, Indianapolis), Zach Markley (K, Trine) and Quest Fritz (OL, Trine) are also going on to play college football.
Winamac coach Tim Roth noted the Warriors will have starting quarterback Parker Fox back for his senior season as well as four of their five starting offensive linemen returning.
The Warriors were such a dominating team last season that their backups gained over 1,000 yards of offense.
“We obviously lose some skill kids but we’ve got a couple younger kids that played behind Katschke, [Keegan] Kasten and Schultz and it’s their time to shine,” Roth said. “We’ll have seven or eight starters back on defense to build off our success.”
The Winamac coach added he would like his upcoming team to pick up the pace this summer.