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  • Val T.

Give him some trap: Deming follows blockers to third straight 200yard game as Rochester routs Whitko


Sports Editor, RTC

SOUTH WHITLEY – Alex Deming ran for 260 yards and three touchdowns, and the

Alex Deming

Rochester defense came within one play of its first shutout in four years in beating host Whitko 35-6 Friday.

Wesley Meadows and Payton Luhnow added touchdown runs in the third quarter. After going for two points after every touchdown in their previous two games, Parker Wallace made all five of his extra point tries in this game.

When Luhnow scored on a counter from the 1-yard line and Wallace kicked an extra point with 31.7 seconds left in the third quarter, Rochester had a 35-0 lead, and the rest of the game was played with a running clock per the IHSAA Football Mercy Rule.

Rochester improved to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the Three Rivers Conference. Whitko fell to 0-3, 0-2.

Rochester’s two-game winning streak is their first since 2019. They have allowed only 13 points in their last two games combined, which is the fewest they have allowed over a two-game span since 2017.

The win also continues the trend of South Whitley being a home away from home for the Zebras. Rochester has won their last three trips to Whitko and eight of their last nine dating back to 2005.

Playing against a Zebra defense largely consisting of backups, Slater Craig had a 9-yard touchdown run on the last play of the game for Whitko.

In a 3:16 span of the second quarter, Rochester gained 179 yards of offense and scored 21 points to break open a scoreless tie.

They did all that damage in just four offensive snaps.

It started with Deming’s 76-yard touchdown run on a third-and-9 trap play with 8:09 left in the half. Rochester coach Ron Shaffer had called timeout just prior to the snap. He wanted them to play faster. He said they were playing with “lead feet.”

“It was a trap,” Shaffer said of the play call. “We just walked about executing better. The fullback wasn’t hitting it fast enough. Guys weren’t staying on their blocks long enough. From there, it just started rolling.”

On the first play of the ensuing drive, Ethan Gilbert was stripped as he entered into a pile of Zebra tacklers. Luhnow recovered at the Whitko 27.

After a 4-yard pass from Aaron Swango to Gavin McKee, Deming ran 23 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0.

And after a three-and-out possession in which Whitko lost four yards, Deming had another 76-yard touchdown run on a trap to get the lead to 21-0.

Deming had four carries for 176 yards and three touchdowns in the second quarter alone.

Deming said Shaffer told him to read his blocks better during the timeout in the second quarter. Left guard Brady Beck’s job was to fly over and block the defender trying to tackle Deming from his right. In Rochester football parlance, it’s called the “Screaming Wall.”

“I wasn’t running my wall right,” Deming said. “He told me to run my wall. It was going to be right there. I can’t thank my linemen enough.”

Rochester also scored on both of their drives in the third quarter. They ran 19 plays offensively, all runs. Deming only carried the ball on four of those 19 plays as he was often employed as a lead blocker on a series of wingback counters.

Meadows’ 6-yard run with 6:14 left in the third made it 28-0.

After another three-and-out that ended with Craig being called for intentional grounding as Rochester defenders collapsed the pocket, the Zebras followed with another eight-play, 78-yard touchdown drive.

Rochester got first downs on five consecutive plays with four different ball carriers – Luhnow, Antonio Schlosser, Colton Ferverda and Gavin McKee – to move from their own 22 to the Whitko 12.

Luhnow finished off the drive.

As for the Rochester defense, Gilbert had a 27-yard run on the second play from scrimmage, but by the time Whitko got their second first down, Rochester led 21-0.

Tyler Veach had 83 yards rushing last week against Peru, but the Zebra defense held him to seven yards.

“Just playing our base (defense),” Shaffer said. “That’s all we did. Play base. Guys read their keys. We did a really good job with what we’re trying to do. Coverage guys were excellent tonight. They came out and kinda played spread. We didn't prepare for that at all, and the kids adapted and did well.”

Deming also plays inside linebacker on defense in addition to fullback on offense.

“By far, I think he’s probably the best coach I’ve ever had,” Deming said of Shaffer. “We wouldn’t be winning without him.”

Whitko played without leading fullback and leading ball carrier Isaiah Kyles, who was out with a knee injury.


Rochester 35, Whitko 6

Tippecanoe Valley 45, Peru 9

Pioneer 12, LaVille 7

Winamac 35, Manchester 18

Caston at Triton, 1 p.m. Saturday


Rochester 35, Whitko 6

Tippecanoe Valley 45, Peru 9

Southwood 34, North Miami 6

Winamac 35, Manchester 18 (nonconference)


Pioneer 12, LaVille 7

Winamac 35, Manchester 18 (nonconference)

Caston at Triton, 1 p.m. Saturday

Knox 20, Highland 14 (nonconference)

North Judson 34, North Newton 12 (nonconference)


Rochester 0 21 14 0 – 35

Whitko 0 0 0 6 – 6

First quarter

(no scoring)

Second quarter

RHS – Alex Deming 76 run (Parker Wallace kick)

RHS – Deming 23 run (Wallace kick)

RHS – Deming 76 run (Wallace kick)

Third quarter

RHS – Wesley Meadows 6 run (Wallace kick)

RHS – Payton Luhnow 1 run (Wallace kick)

Fourth quarter

WHI – Slater Craig 9 run (no PAT attempted)

Watch entire game here:

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