Week 2 football preview: Culver seeks better defense vs. South Central
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
South Central (Union Mills) (0-1) at Culver (0-1), 7:30 p.m.
There might be some different players from last year, but Culver’s T-formation offense, which features three running backs and two tight ends, showed that it could move the ball against conference and sectional rival North Judson last week. The Cavaliers accumulated 284 yards, and Blake Thompson, Shane Shuman and Jalen King all had at least 80 yards rushing.
“I think that was probably one of our bright spots,” Culver coach Mike Zehner said of the running game. “We took the opening kickoff and drove it down. It was about a seven-and-a-half, eight minute drive and punched it in the end zone.”
The Cavaliers even built a 12-7 lead late in the first quarter on a Shuman 59-yard touchdown run.
But it’s the defense that might be a concern.
Culver lost 63-20 to conference and sectional rival North Judson last week, and the 63 points they allowed were the second-most a Culver team has allowed in coach Mike Zehner’s five years as coach. North Judson had over 470 yards of offense. They outscored Culver 21-0 in the second quarter and tacked on another 21 points in the third quarter.
“We came back out in the second half and did some nice things offensively, but we had a lot of things to clean up on the defensive side of things,” coach Zehner said. “But I really liked what we did — a balanced attack.”
As for the offensive line, Culver has only two players playing in the same spot they did last year: tight end Marquez Anderson and center Auston Zehner. The new guards are Alex Zehner and Hunter Evans. Hunter Taylor and Dalton Binkley are the starting tackles. A.J. Cooper is the other starting tight end opposite Anderson.
“The guys up front are going to continue to get better,” coach Zehner said. “With the exception of Marquez and Auston, everybody else was getting their first start on Friday night under the lights. It showed at times, but Judson’s a good team. They’re experienced, but we’re going to continue to get better, and we’ll gain that experience throughout the season.”
Still, coach Zehner likes the potential of his group.
“I really think we’re very athletic up front, probably more athletic than what we were last year,” he said. “We’ve just got to make sure we’ve got to pick those guys up and just get better each week. That’s all we’ve got to do.”
Asked about the defensive issues, coach Zehner remarked that North Judson, the defending Class 1A, Sectional 41 champions, have quality athletes. But he also said they have to get better at the “fundamentals” and “stay true” to their assignments, especially when the opponent runs the option.
This week’s opponent is South Central, a team against whom Culver earned two of their seven wins last season.
Senior quarterback Brady Glisic accounted for 156 of South Central’s 183 yards of offense in a 23-20 loss to Triton last week. Glisic threw three touchdown passes, including a 68-yarder to Trent Hudspeth. Another factor in the passing game is mountainous tight end Brendan Carr, who is listed at 6-8.
“South Central’s going to throw the ball around, and there were times our secondary wasn’t even close,” coach Zehner said of the pass defense against North Judson. “You know, wide open throws and passes, whether it was a post corner (route), post wheel, whatever it might be. We’ve got to get better fundamentally this week. I know we will.”