• Val T.

Week 8 football preview: Ream’s availability could affect Valley against Manchester

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Manchester (2-5, 2-4 Three Rivers Conference) at Tippecanoe Valley (5-2, 5-1), 7 p.m.

The Tippecanoe Valley football team beat Maconaquah 20-17 last week, shutting out the Braves in the second half and winning the game on a fourth-quarter touchdown run from Hunter Eherenman.

It marked Valley’s first win over Maconaquah since 1976. Valley coach Stephen Moriarty praised the performance of running backs like Eherenman, Jamasyn Virgil, Joel Cisneros and Johnny Gonsalez. They had to fill in for the injured Braden Shepherd and Alex Craft.

He also praised his offensive line for improving as the game went on, even despite an injury to starting guard Ben Bowser. The offensive line also showed discipline as Valley quarterback Branson McBrier used a hard cadence to get crucial offsides penalties called on the Braves.

Still, the performance left something to be desired.

“It truly didn’t feel very satisfying, you’d say, because I felt like we just didn’t play well,” Moriarty said. “I mean, they’re a very good team. That’s probably the best team we’ve played all year this season. … I just think with their back (Carter) Little and their quarterback (Nolan Kelly), they do such a good job. If you cover one, then the other one is going to keep the ball. And stopping their offense was very difficult for us. But it was nice to finally get one over Maconaquah. They’ve had our number the last two years. So to put ourselves in position not to lose the conference in that game was very satisfying.”

This week, the magic number for Valley might be 32. They score 32 points per game while the Manchester defense allows 32 per game.

The other magic number might be 10 because that is Braxton Ream’s uniform number. Ream has 889 yards rushing this year – 178 yards per game -- for the Squires, but he has missed the last two games.

Without him, Manchester had only 48 yards rushing last week in a 20-14 loss to Whitko. The Squires have lost three straight games.

Moriarty has stressed gap control on the defensive line.

“Ream’s one of the better backs, if not the best back in the conference,” Moriarty said. “He poses a problem for the type of defense that we run. We’re more of a gap control defense, and if we don’t do our assignments or if we don’t pinch down and we do give him that opening, he’ll be gone. His getaway speed is unbelievable, one of the faster kids in the conference by far.”

Braden Shepherd and Bowser will miss the game with shoulder injuries. Brandt Alber will fill in at guard on offense for Bowser. Craft, who suffered a pinched nerve against Maconaquah, is expected to play. Look for Virgil and Karl Parker to see time at outside linebacker to fill Bowser’s void as well.

Valley has won the last five meetings over Manchester, including a 25-0 win last year.



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