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  • Val T.

Week 9 preview: After first shutout in 4 years, Zebra defense hopes not to get ‘Birn’ed


Sports Editor, RTC

Maconaquah (2-4, 2-4 TRC) at Rochester (4-2, 3-2), 7 p.m.

The Rochester football team recorded its first shutout in four years in their 56-0 win over North Miami last week.

The Zebras held the Warriors to just 38 yards of offense. Defensive linemen like Marshall Fishback, Austin Rogers, Brady Beck, Hunter Shriver and Jesse Shriver repeatedly were able to disrupt North Miami’s plays.

“We implemented a little bit different techniques with some slanting that really messed their line up just a little bit as far as their progressions in blocking or what have you,” Rochester first-year coach Ron Shaffer said. “It really played into Marshall Fishback’s hands. His quickness and strength really gives anybody fits, but with North Miami, it puts him one-on-one with a guy, and it’s a pretty tough matchup for North Miami with him. Brady Beck played excellent coming off the edge with his pass rush. Then we have the Shrivers rotating at one defensive tackle, and Austin Rogers, who does present a problem with his quickness. A really good job of keeping our backers clean and making plays themselves too.”

Maconaquah’s passing attack will likely look nothing like North Miami’s offense though. In fact, it might not look like any offense seen in the TRC over the last decade.

Even though Maconquah’s first two games against Southwood and Lewis Cass were canceled due to COVID issues at Maconaquah, sophomore quarterback Braxton Birner has still attempted 219 passes – about 37 per game.

By contrast, Rochester junior quarterback Aaron Swango has thrown 17 passes – fewer than three per game.

Birner will sit in the shotgun formation on every snap, and there will be four wide receivers in their “Air Raid” sets. Zebra defenders must also respect sophomore running back Ty Galvan, who leads the Braves with 320 yards rushing.

“Accurate,” Shaffer said of Birner. “He does a really good job of extending plays with his feet by adjusting in the pocket, not necessarily tucking the ball and running. He’s doing a really good job within their system of hitting the open receiver, and that’s a recipe for success, and they’ve done a really good job with it.”

Rochester is 0-4 against Maconaquah since the schools became conference rivals in 2015, including a 29-28 overtime loss in Bunker Hill last year.

Maconaquah has lost their last two games to Tippecanoe Valley and Manchester by a combined score of 94-12.

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