Fresh faces star for Zebras in largest winning margin in school history
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
It was a night in which the Rochester football team honored its history, and it was a night they made some more history of their own.
Brant Beck ran for two first-half touchdowns, and fellow freshmen Carson Paulik and Declan Gard also had scoring runs to lead the Zebras to a 70-0 win over Whitko at Barnhart Field Friday.
Maddox Jewell added a pair of scoring runs, and Aaron Swango ran for a touchdown and threw a touchdown pass to Payton Luhnow. Alex Deming and Ethan Amezquita also ran for touchdowns.
Deming had run for 416 yards in wins over Southwood and Knox to start the season, but he was needed for only three carries and 44 yards against the Wildcats.
Parker Wallace converted all 10 of his extra points and is 15 for 15 on the season.
Defensively, Rochester held Whitko to one first down and -4 yards of total offense. The Zebras had been allowing 33.5 points per game and over 340 yards per game against Southwood and Knox.
Rochester improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the Three Rivers Conference. Whitko fell to 0-3, 0-2. They have not scored a point this season.
Rochester is 16-3 in their last 19 meetings with Whitko.
The 70-point margin of victory was the largest in school history. Rochester had 63-point wins over Wabash in both 2008 (69-6) and 2010 (63-0).
The entire second half was played with a running clock, per the IHSAA Mercy Rule.
Three of Rochester’s scoring drives consisted of one play, and none of Rochester’s scoring drives were longer than 51 yards as the game stayed on Whitko’s end of the field.
“Just trying to do what we do and get after oit a little bit on the offensive side of things, and I thought the kids played with pretty good intensity early,” Rochester coach Ron Shaffer said. “It’s hard if a team can’t match your intensity, but the kids were able to raise their level of intensity and get some work done, and the first quarter went pretty fast as far as scoring and getting towards that 35-point number.”
Whitko’s only first down came with just over three minutes left against backups on defense and the Zebras leading by 70 points.
“It’s hard to tell tonight,” Shaffer said. “They’re pretty inept on offense, so it’s hard to see kids perform their techniques as you really don’t know how the other team is performing their own. But I was pretty happy with the way we got after the ball and got after the flow of the game.”
The 1987 Rochester state championship team was honored at halftime. Head coach Mark Miller was among those honored.
Marshall Fishback, the 2022 heavyweight state wrestling champ, also received a ring honoring him for his state title at halftime.
Melody Hisey and Paul Leasure were crowned homecoming queen and king, respectively.
A large crowd was there for all of it and a pregame pork dinner. Then junior lineman Brady Beck returned the opening kickoff to the Rochester 49, and the entertainment on the field was about to take hold quickly.
After one quarter, the Zebra lead was 35-0.
“Well, it’s always important to get off to a good start just to set the tone because Shaffer’s philosophy is if you beat them in the first five plays, they’re beat for the whole game. So that’s exactly what we did,” senior center Austin Rogers said.
Rogers, Hunter Shriver and Brady Beck are returnees to the offensive line. Newcomers Peyton Young at right guard and Xavier Vance at left tackle are new starters this year.
“They’ve been doing phenomenal,” Shriver said of Young and Vance. “They’re hardly missing a beat, and they’re really coming along. X had a big game last week, and Peyton Young is just getting better every week and just doing his job.”
Rochester 70, Whitko 0
Whitko 0 0 0 0 – 0
Rochester 35 21 14 0 – 70
RHS – Alex Deming 5 run (Parker Wallace kick)
RHS – Brant Beck 30 run (Wallace kick)
RHS – Payton Luhnow 30 pass from Aaron Swango (Wallace kick)
RHS – Beck 13 run (Wallace kick)
RHS – Swango 26 run (Wallace kick)
RHS – Ethan Amezquita 1 run (Wallace kick)
RHS – Maddox Jewell 31 run (Wallace kick)
RHS – Carson Paulik 35 run (Wallace kick)
RHS – Jewell 8 run (Wallace kick)
RHS – Declan Gard 5 run (Wallace kick)