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  • Val T.

Week 8 preview: Rochester seeks 3rd straight win vs. improved North Miami


Sports Editor, RTC

North Miami (3-4, 2-4 Three Rivers Conference) at Rochester (6-1, 5-1), 7 p.m.

The Rochester offense racked up another 388 yards of offense in a 42-33 win over Northfield last week. They scored touchdowns on their first six possessions of the game, and they did not punt or commit a turnover.

Alex Deming had a team-high 148 yards rushing, and Gavin McKee (94) and Brant Beck (86) also eclipsed 80 yards rushing.

Rochester coach Ron Shaffer said all five starting offensive linemen – tackles Xavier Vance and Hunter Shriver, guards Brady Beck and Payton Young and center Austin Rogers had a hand in helping holes in the running game.

“As always, Brady Beck was really consistent,” Shaffer said. “Payton Young at times had some really nice seal blocks and lead blocks on our belly sweep. And all the time, we had some really good down blocks out of Hunter Shriver and out of Xavier Vance. So quite a few guys really had nice games up front on the offensive line. But probably overall most consistent was Austin Rogers and getting our guys in the right blocking scheme for the defensive front that they were playing. They came out in a little bit different front trying to stop Deming, and he did a nice job adjusting and blocking his assignments and rules throughout the game.

However, Northfield scored on five of their seven possessions. Now Rochester will try and stop a North Miami offense that is much more productive than last year. Last year, North Miami averaged 6.7 points per game. This year, they are averaging 24 ppg.

Freshman Hartley Hoover is the starting quarterback, and he will hand off to a group of three seniors – Austin Smith, Bradyn Fennell and Lucas Keim.

“He’s a freshman that’s surviving, and he’s doing a pretty good job at quarterback,” Shaffer said. “He brings a little different skill set than what (Northfield’s) Mason Fisher does. He’s not quite to Mason’s level yet, but Fisher has been in the game quite a bit, and he’s a senior where Hoover is coming into this and is just a freshman. So his development will continue to get better, but from what we’ve seen on film from early in the year to now, he seems very comfortable under center.”

Smith has 1,220 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns on 8.0 yards per carry. Shaffer said they will try to get him the ball on power, isos, a straight tailback toss and as part of their option series.

Shaffer is a 1991 North Miami grad. North Miami coach Joe Grant, a 2008 North Miami grad, was the Rochester coach in 2016. He has been the coach at North Miami since 2017 and is 0-3 against his former school. This is the first time North Miami has traveled to Rochester for a game since Grant’s initial North Miami season in 2017.

Rochester won last year’s meeting 56-0 in Denver.

Rochester is ranked No. 9 in this week’s Associated Press Class 2A poll. It is their highest ranking of the season.

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