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  • Val T.

Week 1 preview: Zebras defense seeks to stop Southwood’s ‘Mo,’ beat Knights for first time since '14


Sports Editor, RTC

Southwood at Rochester, 7 p.m.

The beginning of the Rochester football season marks the debuts for two new starting offensive linemen.

Peyton Young is new at right guard, and Xavier Vance is new at left tackle. They join returnees Brady Beck at left guard, Austin Rogers at center and Hunter Shriver at right tackle.

Against Southwood, the offensive line will have to block an experienced Southwood trio of defensive linemen in Jason Oprisek, Nevan Sharp and Randy Boone.

“We got off the ball really well,” Rochester coach Ron Shaffer said in evaluating the offensive line’s performance in last week’s scrimmage against Winamac. “We probably played a little bit higher than I wanted to with our pad level, and we sustained blocks better than you usually do this early in the season. That was encouraging as we went through the scrimmage.”

Defensively, the key will be to stop Southwood’s big three of quarterback Mo Lloyd, running back Isiah Sutton and wide receiver Cole Winer. All three are seniors, and Lloyd and Winer were first-team all-TRC last year.

Lloyd accounted for over 300 yards of total offense and five touchdowns – four rushing, one passing – in last year’s 45-26 win over the Zebras.

“They run some read plays, so they’ll run what we call an inside zone read,” Shaffer said. “They like to run a power read. And they’ll run some draw plays for him in the passing game. So they’ll give you that initial pass read, and then he tucks the ball and runs. And he’s super dangerous. Any time he’s running the ball, he’s a dangerous player. He’s electrifying. He’s fast, strong. He goes 6-0, 190-195 pounds, so he’s a load. You can;t afford to not cover the back end because he can throw the ball over the place. He keeps you up at night as a defensive coordinator thinking about how you’re going to stop him.”

Junior D.J. Basham suffered a broken ankle on the last play of the scrimmage and is out.

Rochester has lost their last four meetings with Southwood. They have not beaten Southwood since 2014.

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