Week 9 football preview:
A Little goes a long way: Rochester game plan needs to account for Mac star on offense, defense, special teams
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Rochester (0-6, 0-6 Three Rivers Conference) at Maconaquah (3-3, 3-3), 7 p.m.
The Rochester football team’s running game received a boost against Class 1A, No. 3 Southwood last with the return of Landon Kelly, who ran for 71 yards on offense and also had seven tackles from his safety spot on defense.
Still, the Zebras lost 35-0 to the undefeated Knights. They are 1-12 in their last 13 games dating back to last year.
“I think we did a better job of running the ball,” RHS coach Sean Kelly said. “Landon Kelly helps that, and Alex Deming is a very good blocking fullback already as a freshman. For the most part, we played better defensively, but again, the big play continues to kill us.”
Southwood had three touchdowns of more than 30 yards. Southwood also had a 57-yard punt return that set up a touchdown.
“It is a matter of making sure everybody is doing their job,” Kelly said of the big plays. “We cannot have breakdowns in assignments and have people who are assigned to contain go inside. … With the difference in speed advantage that the other teams have had on us, it is difficult to make up for missed assignments or mistakes by young players.”
Maconaquah senior Carter Little will test their ability to stop big plays this week. Little returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in a 41-27 Maconaquah win at Barnhart Field last year. He also had four rushing touchdowns in a 42-39 win over Wabash last week.
Maconaquah ran the ball 59 times in the Wabash game.
“They are not in the tight, bunched-up double wing stuff anymore,” coach Kelly said. “They are more spread out, but the goal is still the same: Get the ball to Carter Little. Nolan Kelly is also a very good runner from the quarterback position.”
Little is not just a force on offense and special teams. He is also Maconaquah’s all-time leader in interceptions on defense.
“He is the strong safety,” Kelly said. “He is a very good run supporter as well as a cover man. We have to account for him in our blocking schemes.”
Kelly said that junior Antonio Schlosser will start at quarterback. Junior wide receiver-defensive back Jarret Regan is back from an injury that forced him to miss the Southwood game. Sophomore Payton Luhnow has also seen more time as a cornerback and outside linebacker on defense.
Rochester is 0-3 against Maconaquah since they became conference rivals in 2015. RHS has not beaten Maconaquah since the 1998 sectional final.