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  • Val T.

Week 2 preview: Culver coach Zehner expects better numbers for game vs. South Central

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

South Central (Union Mills) (0-1) at Culver (0-1), 7:30 p.m.

Culver coach Mike Zehner sensed an opportunity for an upset for his team against North Judson last week. They trailed North Judson, a top-five team in Class 1A, 20-12 going into the fourth quarter, and they had the ball.

Zehner said that associate coach and offensive coordinator Austin Foust did an “awesome job” in preparing the team, and Jason Cadle threw two touchdown passes to sophomore Ethan Binion. An offensive line that included new starters like Robert Evans and Braiden Molebash went through “growing pains” but encouraged Zehner.

But North Judson pulled away with 25 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and went on to win 45-12.

Culver dressed 19 players, and Zehner said “no doubt” when asked if depth was a factor.

“We knew we were short-handed,” Zehner said when asked if depth was a factor. “They’re the number four or five team in 1A, and I told the guys, ‘We have nothing to lose. Go out and play hard. Play fast. Play our style of football. And that’s exactly what we did for three, three-and-a-half quarters. We had the ball going into the fourth down one score. … We ran out of gas. We were cramping. That’s a product of eight or nine guys going both ways and not just that, but they’re also playing all the special teams.

“We have to do a better job as coaches to make sure we have that depth ready, but at the same time also, we don’t want to throw some of the freshmen to the number four or five team in the state as well.”

Getting Emiliano Ortiz back from injury and Ian Brown back after a stint in basic training will help with the numbers going into Friday’s game against sectional rival South Central. Ortiz and Brown are veteran ball carriers, and Brown is also an outside linebacker on defense while Ortiz helps out in the secondary.

This is the team’s first meeting since Culver pitched an 18-0 shutout at home in last year’s sectional over the Satellites.

South Central, who lost 49-0 to Triton in their opener last week, relies on junior quarterback Zach Hanchar and junior running back Aaron Hogan.

“They have their quarterback from last year in the Hanchar kid, and he throws a pretty good ball,” Zehner said. “They lost some linemen up front. They return the Hogan kid at running back as well. … They’re young. They’re going to have some growing pains, a lot like us. I feel like we’re very comparable.”

Zehner said South Central will play a 4-3 or a 4-4 defense, depending on whether Culver shows a T-formation offense or more of a spread.

“Their linebackers are always true to their reads, and they play very disciplined defense,” Zehner said.

Culver and South Central have split their last eight meetings.


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