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  • Val T.

Week 10 preview: SouthNewton hopes to ‘Cruz’ to victory, but host Cavaliers will try to stop Rebels


Sports Editor, RTC

Class 1A, Sectional 41 quarterfinal: South Newton (5-4) at Culver (2-5), 7:30 p.m.

Culver outrushed LaVille 245-135 last week, and they committed no turnovers.

But they didn’t score after the first quarter and fell 19-6 in a game they never led.

Shane Shuman led Culver with 144 yards rushing.

“That’s one of the best defenses definitely in the HNAC,” Culver coach Mike Zehner said. “I thought we put up some yards on them but just didn’t come away with a win.”

Zehner thought that his team returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown but that the score was disallowed due to an official’s mistake.

“At the half, I felt still pretty good about where we were at,” Zehner said. “We just wanted to move the ball well. We did a lot of good things. We just didn’t convert a couple fourth downs there and … just didn’t convert inside the red zone. We also had a blocked field goal return for a touchdown called back because of an inadvertent whistle. So I mean that was big. That would have tied it up there. We also had a ticky-tack pass interference penalty that set up their last score. So it was little things like that. It’s frustrating when the ball doesn’t go our way. … I felt like we played a really good game.

Culver’s sectional opener against South Newton this week is also their third straight home game.

The Rebels are coming off a 12-0 win over Frontier last week, which marked their first shutout since 2015.

South Newton relies on quarterback Kayden Cruz, a senior, and younger brother Korbin Cruz, a junior, in their spread attack.

Kayden Cruz has accounted for 26 touchdowns this season – 16 rushing and 10 passing. He has thrown for 985 yards and rushed for another 1,043.

“Some of those are designed,” Zehner said of the running plays South Newton likes to call for Kayden Cruz. “Some of those are dropping back for a pass and finding a hole and going. He’s definitely their best athlete. The brother also helps out and runs the ball a little bit in the backfield. They’ll run some screens. They’ll test you downfield. They definitely run a nice spread offense and do some nice things with that. So he definitely presents a lot of problems for us, that’s for sure.”

South Newton beat Culver 27-21 in the 2011 sectional final in their most recent meeting. South Newton has not won a sectional since.

Chris Bell, who was South Newton’s coach in 2011, is their athletic director today. Bell was Culver’s coach from 1993-95. Bell also taught physical education at Culver at the time, and one of his students was Zehner.

(Winner plays Caston-South Central (Union Mills) winner in the semifinals on Oct. 29.)

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