Week 10 football preview: After OT loss to Maconaquah, improving Zebras seek win vs. streaking Lions
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Bremen (7-2) at Rochester (0-7), 7 p.m.
The Rochester football team lost to Maconaquah 29-28 in overtime last week to complete a winless regular season, but they are seeing more lineup continuity.
Noah Swango, who had been a two-way starter prior to the Southwood game Oct. 9 at both guard and inside linebacker, now starts on defense only. He had 17 tackles against Maconaquah.
“I think it was probably one of our best of the year,” RHS coach Sean Kelly said of the defense. “We had guys flying to the football making tackles. We had Marshall Fishback at defensive tackle that ended up with 11 tackles and four solo tackles. So it was obviously better. We wrapped up better. And just overall for getting guys to the football, 11 guys to the football, it was a big improvement.”
Braedon Pinder started at Swango’s old left guard spot against Maconaquah, and that unit now has no senior starters. Pinder, Jesse Shriver and Marshall Fishback are juniors, Hunter Shriver is a sophomore, and Brady Beck is a freshman.
“We gave our offensive lineman of the week (award) to the entire offensive line and the tight end Griggsy (Alex Griggs),” Kelly said. “They all played well. Obviously, when you only have to throw the ball twice, your running game’s probably working, so we gave it to them all.”
While the Maconaquah performance was an improvement after being outscored 179-7 in their previous four games, the Zebras might face their stiffest challenge yet.
Bremen has won four straight games coming into the postseason. Playing in the Northern Indiana Conference, five of their seven wins have come against teams in higher classes, including wins over Class 4A teams South Bend St. Joe, South Bend Riley and South Bend Clay.
Bremen senior running back Blake Dingus has rushed for 1,072 yards, and he has six 100-yard ground efforts and 14 rushing touchdowns this season. Fellow senior Hunter Bennitt scored three touchdowns against South Bend Clay in a 54-0 win last week, and he is a threat as a runner; a pass catcher on fade routes that Bremen will try three to four times per game, according to Kelly; and as one of the area’s top punt returners.
Ethan Nunemaker is Bremen’s junior quarterback, though Kelly also said Dingus will take some snaps in their wildcat formation.
“This week, we’re going to have a really big pass threat in the Bennitt kid as well as receiving as well as some other good receivers,” Kelly said. “And they’re going to take their shots.”
Meanwhile, the Bremen defense shut out South Bend Clay last week and has allowed only 11 points per game.
Only Class 3A, No. 2 Mishawaka Marian has scored more than 14 points in a game on Bremen’s defense.
Kelly declined to name a starting quarterback when asked by RTC. Antonio Schlosser started against Maconaquah, but senior Reece Renie also saw playing time against Maconaquah.
Landon Kelly scored three touchdowns in the loss to Maconaquah – two rushing and one on a kickoff return. He had 158 yards rushing against Maconaquah.
Bremen beat RHS 41-7 at Barnhart Field in the 2015 sectional in their most recent meeting.
The game will be limited to immediate family members only, based on a Fulton County Board of Health recommendation. Tickets, which are $6, will be sold via presale in the RHS attendance office from 7:45 a.m.-3 p.m. Tickets will not be available at the gate.