Week 3 preview: After beating South Central, Culver seeks to break 8-game skid vs. Knox
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Culver (1-1, 0-1 Hoosier North) at Knox (1-1, 1-0), 7:30 p.m.
Culver and South Central were tied 16-16 in the fourth quarter last week, but the Cavaliers scored twice in the final 4:07 and added two two-point conversions and went on to win 32-16.
Shane Shuman had 143 yards rushing and scored all four Culver touchdowns.
Shuman’s go-ahead touchdown run that made it 24-16 came right after Zach Hanchar’s 19-yard scoring run for South Central on a fourth-and-10 play on the previous drive.
Still, Culver coach Mike Zehner cited the importance of a scoring drive earlier in the half.
“I really think the way we came out in the second half … we took the opening kickoff down and converted it into a scoring drive and held them on a four-and-out on their next one and then continued to grind a little bit,” Zehner explained. “We had some drives stall there, but I was really impressed with how we challenged the kids at halftime, and they came out and performed well the second half.”
The threat of quarterback Jason Cadle as a passer has added another dimension to the offense and forced defenses to pay attention to more players than just Shuman. Junior Ryan Beem proved against South Central that he can be a threat in Culver’s screen game.
“It’s definitely helped us based on formations and stuff,” Zehner said. “Not everybody can pack the box, and then when they do, Jason’s done a nice job of commanding the offense.”
Culver did not have Braiden Molebash due to injury, so Ian Brown, playing in his first game of the season, played inside linebacker instead of his usual outside linebacker spot. Emiliano Ortiz started at safety after missing the opener against North Judson due to injury.
“The more depth we can have at the 1A level, the better we’re going to be,” Zehner said. “We’re still battling the numbers and obviously sickness and stuff still out there, so if we do lose somebody … we’ve got to have everybody prepared and ready to go.
“I thought that’s what we did last week, switching people around.”
It was sickness – specifically, a COVID outbreak at Culver – that kept the rivalry game with Knox from being played in 2021.
The rivalry is back this year, and Culver will try to stop a Knox offense that is averaging 50 points per game and over 300 yards rushing per game. Knox relies on senior quarterback Cohen Watson, senior running back Xzavier Roman, sophomore running back Jake Conroy and freshman running back Myles McLaughlin, who has scored four touchdowns in his first two varsity games.
However, Knox allowed 423 yards to Rochester in a 48-46 loss last week at Community Field.
“Some of the stuff they do is predictable,” Zehner said of Knox. “A lot of the stuff, they’re going to do some reads. They’re going to do those things. They’re going to run it right at you, and you’ve got to stop them, and nobody has yet.
“If you look at it, besides that two-point conversion that Rochester stopped, nobody punted last game. We’ve definitely got our work cut out for us defensively.”
Knox has won the last eight meetings in the series.