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Football: Boone Grove looking to continue its climb

Boone Grove Coach Tony Tinkel oversees practice Tuesday October 22 2013 Boone Grove High School. | Michael Gard/For Sun-Times Media

Boone Grove Coach Tony Tinkel oversees practice on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at Boone Grove High School. | Michael Gard/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 25, 2013 1:30PM



VALPARAISO — In its first season of varsity competition in 2011, the Boone Grove football program posted one victory — over Roosevelt in Week 8 of a 1-9 season. One year later, the Wolves improved to 7-4, a season that included a 5-0 start.

Another year later and another year improved, the Wolves are riding a 7-2 record into the start of the postseason Friday, with a chance to establish a new program record for single-season victories if they can knock off Wheeler — a team they defeated 27-7 in Week 1.

At the center of the Wolves’ development has been the improvement of team strength, thanks to countless hours spent in the weight room, according to head coach Tony Tinkel.

“We get started right when school comes back in January for the second semester,” said Tinkel, who’s evened up his coaching record at 15-15 during this season, his third as the Wolves’ coach. “We give them a bit of time off (after the season ends), and then we get started.”

That commitment to the weight room has its roots in a 51-12 loss the Wolves suffered to South Newton at the end of their first season.

“After the game, our kids came off the field and said, ‘Coach, we’re not strong enough,’” Tinkel recalled. “So we went to work on that.”

One of the benefactors of that strength program has been fullback/linebacker Matt Williams, a junior standout. Even in the spring, when Williams is a member of the Boone Grove baseball team, he finds a way to get in his workouts.

“If baseball has a late practice, he’ll lift weights and then go play baseball,” Tinkel said.

While growing up around the school, Williams said he was excited when he learned that he wouldn’t have to give up football in high school.

“I couldn’t wait to keep playing the sport I love,” Williams said. “We’ve made a big jump in every way. Our coaching staff has put us in the right spots to succeed and we’ve been able to do that.”

“He’s just a tough-nosed kid,” Tinkel said of Williams, who sees plenty of contact in the middle of the Wolves’ defense and also as the lead blocker when the Wolves’ offense runs out of the I formation.

In eight games this year, Williams has nine solo tackles and 35 assists, including 10 tackles for loss. He’s also added four sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. On offense, Williams has 66 yards on 18 carries and 141 yards on 13 receptions, but that’s not this favorite part of that side of the ball.

“I’d rather be the lead blocker,” he said. “I like being the one to make a hole for my backs to run through so they can score.”

The Wolves scored four times — twice off of turnovers in the first quarter — against Wheeler during the teams’ opening week matchup. A second victory in the same season is typically tougher to attain, however, as Tinkel and Williams mentioned.

“We can’t underestimate them,” Williams said. “Just because we beat them once doesn’t mean it’ll be easy again.”

Added Tinkel: “It’s tough to beat them twice. We have to control the ball and we have to contain their running backs. If we let people get outside, then we might be in trouble.”

Like the first matchup, Boone Grove is on the road at Wheeler High School on Friday night, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.



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