Week 5 preview: Kings, Zebras meet in battle of wing-Ts
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Lewis Cass (2-2, 2-1 Three Rivers Conference) at Rochester (3-1, 3-0), 7 p.m.
Rochester senior fullback Alex Deming has 370 yards rushing and six touchdowns on 6.6 yards per carry through four games, but even those numbers might not adequately convey Deming’s contribution to the offense as he is often a decoy to create running lanes for teammates Colton Ferverda and Brant Beck.
An example in last week’s 50-0 win over Manchester might have been in the second quarter when Squire defenders flocked to Deming after taking an apparent handoff. But he did not have the ball, and Beck eventually charged through a vacant hole down the middle of the field for a 46-yard touchdown run.
Part of sophomore quarterback Carson Paulik’s job is selling the fakes to Deming.
“We’re running some plays where he draws the inside linebackers to him,” Rochester coach Ron Shaffer said of Deming. “Which really helps us in our sweep game and some of the things that we do. So he was pretty effective for us Friday night. As far as Carson Paulik getting the fakes down, he’s getting better with it. We always want him to work like he’s a dealer dealing cards. We don’t want his hands too far extended. We want his elbows tight to his body on certain fakes, and then there are some times we want him to extend his hands and make it look like a pitch.
“So there’s quite a few nuances to playing that position, and we also ask him to do those things and sometimes block and carry out other fakes. He’s picked it up really, really quickly. He’s what I would call on schedule.”
This week might be the closest Rochester has seen to looking into a mirror since Shaffer became coach. That’s because Lewis Cass runs a wing-T like the Zebras, and they also have a four-man front on defense.
They rely on wingback Cooper Frey and fullback Wyatt Loos, though 11 different backs had a carry in their 44-8 win over North Miami last week. Frey is an end, and Loos is a tackle on defense as well. Eli Martin is a key contributor at linebacker.
Shaffer is a former Lewis Cass assistant, and current Rochester assistant Isaac Shaffer is a former Lewis Cass player. Shaffer was Lewis Cass’ offensive coordinator the last time these teams met, a 53-9 Lewis Cass win on Nov. 1, 2019 in a sectional semifinal.
Clayton Mannering is in his fourth season as head coach, and two former Lewis Cass head coaches – Indiana Football Hall of Famer Scott Mannering and Jeff Phillips – are on his coaching staff.
“Lewis Cass has hung their hat on the idea of hit-to-win,” Shaffer said. “And they’re physical. The weight room has definitely been emphasized, you can tell. Clay has definitely fallen in line with what his dad and what Jeff Phillips has done. And we’re seeing him take that over in the rough patches early, and now they’ve got things rolling, and they’re starting to win. … They’re moving in the right direction, and he’s doing a good job.”
Lewis Cass also knocked Rochester out of the 2017, 2011, 2007 and 2004 sectionals. The 2007 win came against a Rochester team that was coming off an undefeated regular season.
This is the teams’ first regular season meeting since a 44-21 Rochester win in Walton on Aug. 28, 1998.