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HS football: Tristen Tonte powers Warren Central past Ben Davis

Warren Central's Tristen Tonte continues to pound defenses.

Warren Central’s Tristen Tonte continues to pound defenses.

There are better ways to spend a Friday night than trying to tackle Tristen Tonte. Warren Central’s opponents are finding that out with increased frequency each week of the season.

Tonte, a 6-1, 220-pound bulldozer, never played running back full-time in his life until this year, as a senior. He played a starring, steady role in Warren Central’s 35-34 win over rival and visiting Ben Davis on Friday night in a matchup of Class 6A top-10 teams.

Tonte, whose father Jim Tonte is the wrestling coach at Warren Central, rushed for 130 yards on 25 carries and helped seal the win on three carries in the final 2 minutes with the Warriors backed up at their own 2-yard line. Though he’s playing running back almost exclusively now, Tonte said he’s not going to be confused for Barry Sanders.

“Running over people is fun,” he said. “That’s what I like to do. Wherever the coaches want me, I’ll play there. I just love the game of football.”

Tonte provided a nice combo on the ground to the air attack for the third-ranked Warriors (4-1). Zach Summeier was 21-for-33 passing for 308 yards and four touchdowns, including a 17-yard fade to sophomore David Bell in the left corner of the end zone to put the Warriors ahead 35-28 with 10:21 left.

But Summeier, who reinjured his right (throwing) shoulder in the second half and missed three plays, was intercepted by Keilan Laws on the following possession. Laws raced 35 yards for a touchdown with 7:54 left to bring the Giants within a point. But the snap on the extra-point attempt was bobbled and the off-balance kick wobbled harmlessly into the line to keep the score 35-34.

“You get tied there, maybe you’re going to overtime,” Ben Davis coach Mike Kirschner said. “Maybe you get a break in overtime. But it was a good game. I wish we would have played this way last week (the Giants lost 20-7 to Center Grove).”

Ben Davis had one more chance, taking over at its own 16 with 4:22 left. Joey Person ran 50 yards to set up the Giants inside the Warren Central 25. But on third-and-17, Reese Taylor’s pass was intercepted by Dijon Anderson. The Warriors were able to run out the final 2:18 after Tonte picked up a first down on a third-and-1 run.

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Warren Central led 14-0, 21-14, 28-21 and 35-28 but could never quite put the Giants away. Taylor was a big reason for that, going 12-for-21 for 146 yards through the air. Azjai Cooper also came in at quarterback for one play in the third quarter and completed a 65-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Hoskins.

“Every time we got up, we’d get a touchdown called back or miss a field goal or something and they’d claw right back,” Warren Central coach Jayson West said. “I was really proud of our kids for not panicking and collapsing. That’s hard to do when a team keeps coming back punch for punch like that.”

Summeier suffered a mild sprain to the AC joint of his shoulder three weeks ago in a 31-28 loss at nationally-ranked Cincinnati Colerain. He can play with it, though it’s painful at times.

“I’m about 85 percent,” Summeier said. “When I fall on it pretty hard, it hurts for about 30 seconds. But then I get back in there. I just got a good little shove and fell on it.”

The Warriors have a good fall-back plan in the run game, however. Tonte, who played quarterback and receiver a year ago after transferring from Perry Meridian (where he was a quarterback), added 15 pounds since his junior year.

“We had to run the ball and that’s what (Tonte) does,” Summeier said. “He gets 4 yards, 4 yards, 4 yards and first down. He’s a huge player for us.”

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Warren Central started quickly, needing just three plays to score on its first drive. Summeier found junior Dean Tate, a favorite target all night, running free behind the Ben Davis defense for a 43-yard touchdown pass to give the Warriors a 6-0 lead.

After the defense forced a punt, the Warriors went right back to work. Summeier threw to his right on a lateral to Tonte, who then flipped the ball back to the senior quarterback. Summeier launched it to an open Tate for a 48-yard touchdown, putting Warren Central ahead 14-0 midway through the first quarter.

With his team teetering on the edge of getting blown out, Taylor led the Giants on a key drive. He converted three third-down passes and ran for a first down on fourth down. Johnny Adams capped the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run.

After an interception by Marcus Dunbar, Ben Davis capitalized on a short field to score four plays later on a 1-yard touchdown run by Person to make it 14-14. The shootout was on from there.

“We knew they were a good team,” Summeier said. “We knew it’d be a good game. Maybe not this close, but a good game.”

Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.

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WARREN CENTRAL 35, BEN DAVIS 34

Ben Davis

7

7

14

6

34

Warren C

14

7

7

7

35

WC – Dean Tate 43 pass from Zach Summeier (kick failed)

WC – Dajour Griffie 48 pass from Summeier (Tate pass from Summeier)

BD – Johnny Adams 8 run (Drake Skiles kick)

BD – Joey Person 2 run (Skiles kick)

WC – Tristen Tonte 2 run (Jason Castillo kick)

BD – Jermaine Hoskins 65 pass from Azjai Cooper (Skiles kick)

WC – David Bell 10 pass from Summeier (Castillo kick)

BD – Reese Taylor 1 run (Skiles kick)

WC – Bell 17 pass from Summeier (Castillo kick)

BD – Keilan Laws 35 interception return (kick failed)

 

BD

WC

First downs

15

26

Total Net Yards

369

473

Rushes-Yards

33-158

34-165

Passing

211

308

Comp-Att-Int

13-22-1

21-34-2

Punts-Average

5-40.8

1-46.0

Fumbles-Lost

0-0

1-0

Penalties-Yards

6-60

5-35

FG Cmp-Att

0-0

0-1

Rushing – Ben Davis, Person 7-103, Taylor 14-28, Adams 7-10, Zion Blow 1-9, Jeremiah Whitthorne 2-6, Noah Thomas 1-4, Jaylyn Robinson 1-(-2). Warren Central, Tonte 25-130, Jason Holland 4-24, Romeir Elliot 2-13, Summeier 3-(-2).

Passing — Ben Davis, Taylor 12-21-1 146, Cooper 1-1-0 65. Warren Central, Summeier 21-33-2 308, Jayden George 0-1-0.

Receiving — Ben Davis, Hoskins 2-70, Blow 4-68, Thomas 4-35, Cooper 2-34, Whitthorne 1-4. Warren Central, Tate 5-106, Bell 7-103, Darien Rivers 2-45, Griffie 4-35, Paul Minor 3-19.

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