Week 8 preview: After Northfield loss, Rochester hopes to bounce back at North Miami
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Rochester (3-2, 2-2 TRC) at North Miami (0-7, 0-6), 7 p.m.
After having their games against Tippecanoe Valley and Peru canceled due to a COVID-19-related pause, Rochester’s return to the field did not get off to a good start when they allowed an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to Northfield’s Mason Fisher last week.
Northfield went on to beat the Zebras 28-21.
“We had some lane assignment issues,” Shaffer said. “Guys went out of their lanes. You know, I don’t know if it’s the product of being off a couple weeks or not, but the kick wasn’t exactly where we wanted it. We like to place it more towards the corner. A combination of that and missed lane assignments was devastating for us there to start the game off.”
The most frustrating element of the loss might have been the defense against Northfield leading rusher. In his previous three games, Goshert rushed for 520 yards and seven touchdowns. But the Zebras held Goshert to 46 yards on 15 carries and kept him out of the end zone.
“Our idea was if we could keep him under 100 yards, we have a chance to win the game,”: Shaffer said. “That’s right where we were at. Coach (Nate) Basham had a good game plan, and the kids executed it for the most part fairly well.”
Rochester had 218 yards rushing as a team. Alex Deming had 113 of those yards and now has 1,144 on the season. His 227.6-yard per-game average remains the best in the state.
Shaffer said he’d give the offensive line a “B” grade for their performance against Northfield.
“It took us a little too long to adjust, angles and aggressiveness coming off the two weeks of no games,” Shaffer said. “I guess that can be expected, but we expect a lot out of our guys to be able to adjust to where guys are on their defense. It took us too long to get things going.
“We were pretty ineffective in the first quarter. Second quarter, we started picking things up. When you play a team like Northfield, who’s won now five games in a row, you can’t afford to only play three of the quarters on offense.”
Rochester travels to face a North Miami team that they have not seen since the 2018 season. The rivalry took a two-year pause when the TRC switched to an eight-game conference schedule and dropped the divisions format and the Week 9 crossmatch game, which left an odd team out of every team’s TRC schedule. (Rochester dropped Manchester from their 2021 and 2022 schedule in order to fit in North Miami. North Miami dropped Tippecanoe Valley to fit in Rochester.)
Rochester and North Miami played each other in the regular season finale every year from 1987-2014. They met in Week 5 of the season from 2015-18.
Both head coaches have a connection to their opponent: Shaffer is a 1991 North Miami grad who has coached at North Miami before when he was a Maconaquah assistant. Meanwhile, North Miami’s Joe Grant is the former head coach at Rochester. In fact, the last time Rochester lost to North Miami, Grant was the Rochester coach.
Sophomore Zeke Reshkus is the North Miami quarterback. He is filling in for the injured Landen Hunt. Bradyn Fennell led North Miami with 41 yards rushing in a 48-7 loss to Wabash last week.
North Miami has lost 14 consecutive games dating back to last year. They have also lost eight of their last nine meetings against Rochester.
“It stung a little bit,” Shaffer said of the Northfield loss. “But we don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves. We have to turn around and get going again.”