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  • Val T.

Week 10 preview: Zebras hope to slow down Seeger’s Rayce Carr, avoid taking one on ‘Chinn’

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Class 2A, Sectional 34 quarterfinal: Rochester (8-1) at Seeger (7-2), 7 p.m.

(winner plays Benton Central-Delphi winner in semifinals)

A hot hand in football might refer to a running back who gains good yardage on a series of runs, but for the Rochester football team, a player who had the hot hand in their 38-14 win over Maconaquah last week was an offensive lineman, according to coach Ron Shaffer.

Senior Eli Swango, who typically plays on defense only, was inserted into the game at right guard approximately two minutes into the second half, and he played so well that Shaffer left him in the game.

The Zebras scored 30 points in the second half with Swango joining regulars Hunter Shriver at right tackle, Austin Rogers at center, Brady Beck at left guard and Xavier Vance at left tackle. Those blockers helped Alex Deming (195 yards), Colton Ferverda (120) and Brant Beck (115) each go over 100 yards rushing. As a team, Rochester had 441 yards rushing.

“Just had a pretty hot hand,” Shaffer said. “He was feeling good on defense. It wasn’t a real physical game on defense. It was more dropping into coverage, so he didn’t have to be a battering ram and go in there and take on fullbacks and tailbacks and lead linemen and all that kind of stuff. Payton (Young) was struggling a little bit, so we went with the hot hand.”

The Maconaquah game was tied 8-8 at halftime, but Rochester took the lead for good on Brant Beck’s 10-yard touchdown run on the Zebras’ first drive of the second half.

Keeping with a trend, Rochester scored on their first drive of the second half in eight of their nine regular season games.

“We are able to adjust at halftime,” Shaffer said. “Obviously, the other team is too. I think it’s taking those adjustments and applying them well. The kids are able to listen. We talk to them. They listen. They talk back to us as far as giving us feedback. It does make it a two-way communication that then shows up on the field – a lot of just good execution.”

Winners of four consecutive games, Rochester looks to maintain that momentum against Seeger, who has won seven straight after an 0-2 start.

The Patriots clinched the outright Wabash River Conference title with a 33-18 win over North Vermillion last week. The win was just Seeger’s second in their last 13 meetings against North Vermillion.

Meanwhile, the Zebras earned a share of the Three Rivers Conference title with their win over Maconaquah coupled with Tippecanoe Valley’s loss to Southwood.

But while both Rochester and Seeger can call themselves conference champions, their season profiles differ in certain respects.

Rochester played four Class 3A opponents and went 3-1 in those games. On the other hand, Seeger did not play any Class 3A opponents. Rochester has five wins over Class 2A and 3A teams while Seeger had only one.

Still, it should be noted that the seven-game winning streak that Seeger is on is their longest since 2006, and they have done it under first-year coach T.J. Ragan, who replaced Herb King after King left to take the Fountain Central coaching position. (King has a connection to the RTC area, having graduated from Tippecanoe Valley in 1980.)

Their top running back is senior Peyton Chinn, who scored the game-winning touchdown with 37 seconds left against South Vermillion two weeks ago. Chinn also stars on defense at linebacker.

“They’ll hand it off directly on power, very similar to what Tippecanoe Valley would do,” Shaffer said. “They run what we call a pin and pull. They toss it to him and get him on the edge. He’s a hard runner. It takes a couple guys to bring him down, very similar to (Alex) Ross of Peru or Austin Smith of North Miami. He breaks tackles, and he finishes runs moving forward. He is essential to them having success, so we have to stop him.”

While Chinn might key the ground game, junior quarterback Noah Stephen keys the passing game. Targets include wide receivers Rayce Carr and Landon Walker and tight end Hunter Frodge.

“Noah Stephen is a really good throwing quarterback,” Shaffer said. “Throws well on the run. Does well in their dropback game. Really strong arm. He can really throw the ball with accuracy. They’re about 80-20 to 75-25 – they really like to run the ball more. But they definitely have the capability to put the ball in the air. He has a nice set of receivers in Rayce Carr and Landon Thomas and their tight end Hunter Frodge. … And they have great concepts, a lot of flood concepts, fades. So he’ll put a lot of pressure on the back end of our defense when they do drop back to pass or roll out. He’s a nice asset, good quarterback.”

Defensively, Seeger allowed 35.5 points per game in their season-opening losses to Lafayette Central Catholic and Benton Central but only 14 points per game during the seven-game winning streak.

Owen Smith and Ryley Nern are a pair of 290-pounders who start at defensive tackle in Seeger’s 4-2-5 scheme.

“Chinn’s an inside backer, and Thomas, their fullback, is the other inside backer,” Shaffer said. “They’re real active in blitzing, and they can also play it from their position. But a lot of blitzing. We’ll see what they do against us. We’ve seen them against a lot of passing teams, but they have a nice set of defensive tackles up front that are very large that take up blocks, so they can freely run and make plays.”

This is the first meeting between Rochester and Seeger. Seeger High School is located at 1222 Indiana 263, West Lebanon.

If Rochester wins, they would play Benton Central on the road or host Delphi in the semifinals.



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