Week 4 preview: Rochester hopes to do ‘Wright’ on defense for 3rd straight week vs. Apaches
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Wabash (0-2, 0-0 Three Rivers Conference) at Rochester (2-1, 1-1), 7 p.m.
The Rochester defense is on their best two-game run since the 2017 season.
They allowed only seven points against Knox and six against Whitko in their last two games and have turned around a 10-game losing streak into a two-game winning streak.
Rochester coach Ron Shaffer said that Whitko came out last week in a spread look that they had not seen on film. They had to adjust on the fly but ultimately held Whitko to just two first downs in the first half while building a 21-0 lead.
The Zebras went on to win 35-6, and Whitko’s only touchdown came against Rochester reserves on the last play of the game.
“They’re a wing-I-back or wing-halfback team is what we saw on film out of the two games that we studied,” Shaffer said of Whitko. “So the kids recovered well, got after it and from there on out, it was executed the way we would want to out of our base defense. So it was a good job by our kids adjusting.”
They will go for three straight against a Wabash team that had to cancel its scheduled game against Manchester last week due to apparent COVID issues within the team. (While Wabash did not play last week, Manchester did play Winamac.)
Rochester is 12-0 all-time – 11 regular season wins plus a sectional win in 2012 – against Wabash since the Apaches joined the TRC in 2006. Six of the 12 wins have been by shutout.
Rochester won the most recent meeting 42-15 in 2018. Last year’s meeting was canceled due to Rochester’s COVID pause.
Wabash features quarterback Izaak Wright, a sophomore lefty who leads a balanced offense in terms of its play calling. The Apaches ran 31 runs and 30 passes in its most recent game, a 25-13 loss to Alexandria on Aug. 27.
“He’s going to definitely throw the ball,” Shaffer said. “A lot of screens, quick throws. They’re not necessarily throwing downfield a whole lot. He does take shots here and there. He’s a scrambler, so you’ve got to keep him contained in the pocket. But he throws a nice ball.”