Week 7 preview: Feeling ‘full:’ Culver-Caston matchup features fullbacks Shuman, Smith
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Culver (1-3, 0-3 Hoosier North) at Caston (2-4, 0-4), 7 p.m.
Three turnovers negated whatever ball-control offense that Culver’s power-T offense tried to achieve in last week’s 28-0 loss to Winamac.
One of those turnovers occurred in Winamac territory in the second quarter at a time when Culver trailed 14-0. Winamac then drove for a score with five seconds left in the half that put the Cavaliers in a 21-0 hole.
Culver also did not put enough pressure on Winamac quarterback Russell Compton when he dropped back to pass, according to coach Mike Zehner.
“We’ve got too many guys that we count on making too many mistakes,” Zehner said. “I thought coach (Kyle) Klinge had a great offensive game plan, and I thought we executed it well. We didn’t get the penetration I wanted on defense to really slow them down. They did a nice job with their pass sets as well. Compton had all day. I really felt like that touchdown right before half was a back breaker.”
Caston, meanwhile, comes in off a 26-10 win over North White. Sam Smith ran for 194 yards and three touchdowns, and Landon Shafer threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Josh Sullivan.
But perhaps more importantly, it was an improvement for a Comet defense that had allowed 42 points per game in its previous four games, all losses.
“It was a big turning point for us,” Caston coach Will Porter said. “Hopefully, we can carry it over this week. But we got some good effort. … We were much more aggressive and did well pursuing the ball, and I thought we really did a good job with the pass protection as well.”
This week’s game might be seen as a showdown between Culver’s Shane Shuman and Caston’s Smith. Both are hard-charging fullbacks – Winamac coach John Hendryx said that tackling Shuman is like trying to tackle a bus – and both are key performers on defense as well.
Zehner said that Caston has more weapons than just Smith though.
“They like to run the midline, they like to run the ‘A’ gap, they like to get Sam the football,” Zehner said. “And he’s obviously a pretty darn good player too. His and the Shafer kid at quarterback have done a nice job. (Grant) Hickle at slot, I mean they’ve got some weapons. It’s not just all Sam Smith. You focus too many guys on Sam, and that’s when Hickle goes on a rocket, or Shafer goes free on a midline keep down the middle of the field. And they’ve done that against good football teams.”
On the other hand, while Porter acknowledged that Shuman is Culver’s go-to guy, he said halfbacks like Emiliano Ortiz and Blake Thompson are also capable offensive weapons.
“Shuman is definitely the fullback they’re going to get the ball to more than the other two halfbacks,” Porter said. “But you definitely can’t fall asleep on those other two guys. You’ve got to get ready.
“This is going to be a pretty fast game because both of us are going to try to control the clock and run the ball. With a few timely passes on each side, you can’t totally rule out the pass, but I can see this game being over by nine o’clock.”
This is Caston’s Homecoming game. Caston is 0-6 against Culver since becoming conference rivals in 2015. Caston has not beaten Culver since 1984.