- Val T.
Week 4 football preview: Ream of the crop: RHS aims to stop Manchester RB
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Rochester (0-1, 0-1 Three Rivers Conference) at Manchester (1-2, 1-1), 7 p.m.
The Zebras lost their opener 28-7 to Whitko last week but showed some progress in the second half.
Freshman fullback Alex Deming and freshman tailback Colton Ferverda ran through holes frequently opened by guards Noah Swango and Marshall Fishback.
Deming eventually scored RHS’ lone touchdown in the fourth quarter to cap off a 43-yard drive.
RHS had two first downs in the first half and nine first downs in the second half.
“The majority of kids that we started were playing in their first varsity football game ever,” RHS coach Sean Kelly said. “They’ve played some JV games, and three or four of them had only played in an eighth grade game before. So it’s a totally different animal when you get out there in a varsity football game and the speed of the game. And so it took those kids awhile to adjust. You could just tell looking at the game tape, the speed that they were playing at in the first and second quarter was not the same speed and aggressiveness that they were playing in that second half.”
The offensive line made more of an impact in the second half.
“We moved the ball well the entire second half,” Kelly said. “We had guys coming off (the ball) and blocking people a lot better (and) adjusting to the speed of the game. And we were playing up to speed by the time we got to the third quarter and fourth quarter and made some adjustments. I just wish we could have played that way the whole game.”
The RHS defense held Whitko to just seven points in the second half. They also forced two turnovers. A sign of improvement could be if they can stop Manchester junior running back Braxton Ream, who had 37 carries for 294 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-29 loss last week to Wabash.
“That’s their game plan,” Kelly said. “They want to get him the ball as much as possible and let him run to daylight. So obviously, that has to be a focus of our team is getting him stopped.”
First-year coach Alyx Brandewie has not abandoned the spread offense that his predecessor Greg Miller ran. Sophomore quarterback Brock Casper will aim to get junior receivers Seth Gaerte and Dylan Stroud involved. Still, the main threat is Ream.
“I would say they’re a spread team, but they want to run the ball, I think,” Kelly said. “They want to get Ream the ball. It’s not something where they’re spreading you out to throw every down against you. I think they’re a run-first team rather than a pass-first team.”
RHS has beaten Manchester the last two years, though both of those games were at Barnhart Field. RHS hasn’t beaten Manchester on the road since 2014. They are 2-2 at Manchester since Manchester built their new football stadium on school grounds in 2011.
Manchester allowed Wabash to throw for 282 yards last week. Wabash receiver Bryant Boggs had 233 yards and four touchdown receptions last week.