There are better ways to spend a Friday night than trying to tackle Tristen Tonte. No. 19 Warren Central (Indianapolis) 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 (Indianapolis) 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.
“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.”