Week 4 preview: After loss to Knox, Culver seeks to rebound against undefeated Trojans
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
West Central (3-0) at Culver (1-2), 7 p.m.
The Culver football team has fewer than half the players that Knox has. Knox has no two-way starters.
That was a difficult obstacle to overcome for the Cavaliers in a 59-14 loss in Starke County last week. Shane Shuman ran for 92 yards and two touchdowns, but Knox’s rushing attack was even more productive, going for 397 yards and seven touchdowns.
“They did a great job,” Culver coach Mike Zehner said. “We knew that going in, they were going to be tough to stop. They’re going to throw six bodies at the point of attack, and you’ve got to stop that. And I think with our depth and everything else, it was a tough task for us.
“We got them in a couple situations where it was a third-and-long or a fourth-and-long, and they completed a pass or a big play for a counter or whatever. So a little bit of frustration there. Those games, you’ve got to play near perfect, and they got some stops on defense. We went down and scored right after they did, and I felt like we could do some things offensively, and I think they were a little more physical up front than what we were, and we struggled with that aspect.”
Now Culver will try to stop a West Central offense that is coming off back-to-back 40-plus point games against Lake Station and Tri-County. That marks the first time West Central has scored 40 or more points in consecutive games since 2018.
Junior quarterback Connor Marlatt and senior running back Ayden White are key to the West Central offense. Marlatt leads West Central in both rushing yards (208) and passing yards (262). White had 137 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries last week.
But what might be even more impressive is that they blanked Tri-County 44-0 last week. That marked West Central’s first shutout since a 33-0 win over Frontier in 2015. West Central has allowed only 20 points total in three games.
The key to both units might be senior Buzz Beiswanger, according to Zehner.
“He’s their best lineman on both sides of the ball,” Zehner said. “He does a very nice job getting penetration and causing negative plays for the other team. Tri-County didn’t look very impressive on film along with Lake Station. I thought those two teams were tough to get a lot from. Lake Station throws the ball 50 times a game, and we’re going to run the ball probably that many times, so it’s tough to get a good read into what they’re going to do defensively. Tri-County’s a spread look as well.”
Asked about his own offensive and defensive lines, Zehner cites Steven Pugh, Ben Lee and Devin Burkett. All three are seniors.
“We rely on them quite a bit,” Zehner said. “I thought Ben Lee really played a nice game last week against Knox where he really forced them to run away from him quite a bit based on how he dug out their kick-out blocks and stuff.”
Culver has won the last eight meetings against West Central, including a 38-14 win in Francesville last year. West Central has not beaten Culver since 2014, nor have they had a four-game winning streak since then.
Zehner and West Central coach Marc Hall were former college teammates at Manchester University. Hall was named the Indiana Football Coaches Association’s Colts/NFL Coach of the Week honorable mention winner for Region 4 last week.