Quartet helps Raiders run to successOctober 27, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — Southridge has come away with a win every single week to this point, thanks in large part to its ground game — which has outran the other team in every game this year as well. Trying to stop the run has been an arduous task for each opponent it has seen. You can stop or slow down one, but the Raiders (10-0) have a litany of options in their backfield to get the job done that B, C and D can to rush to daylight if A isn’t having the greatest night.
The Oct. 23 sectional opener at Mount Vernon was just the latest showcasing of the variety Southridge has in its ground game arsenal. Senior quarterback Chase Taylor and fellow seniors Camden Gasser and Matt Springer all ran for at least 100 yards, while a fourth senior, Parker Kippenbrock, gained 81 yards on three carries in the 42-10 win against the Wildcats.
The four of them will be quick to credit the offensive line for their triumphs on the ground, but they all add something to the mix that allows them — and the Raiders, to succeed.
“Camden’s got a tremendous instinct for running the football,” Southridge coach Scott Buening said. “He sets up his blocks tremendously well. That’s not really something that you can coach. It’s something people either have that or they don’t, and he’s got a tremendous feel for setting up blocks and how to use change of pace and leverage and those kind of things. He sometimes creates big plays when he looks like he’s all bottled up, and he looks like he’s going to get tackled, and somehow, he finds his way through there.
“Matt and Parker are like bulls in a China shop,” he continued. “They run hard, they run angry. They’ve got great power, and they got great leg drive. Matt, as the year has gone on, has really gotten a nice feel for that fullback position. He’s starting to see the field really well. He sets up his cuts and he made some tremendous cuts in the Mount Vernon game that led to some big plays. Parker just runs angry. That kid — he breaks tackles, and when he’s out on the edge blocking, it’s almost fun to watch. He doesn’t just block guys, he puts guys on the ground and just a strong physical kid.
“And then Chase, he’s kind of our between-the-tackles guy and he’s the same,” Buening continued. “He’s a very powerful young man, he’s very strong in the weight room. He runs strong, he runs hard. He’s not afraid to be very physical and those kind of things. And so it’s a nice mixture between the group.”
Southridge has gained a combined 3,553 rushing yards going into this week’s sectional semifinal against Gibson Southern, while the opposition has rushed for a combined 916 yards in 10 games.
“I think that speaks for itself right there,” Kippenbrock said.
“We don’t really pass the ball that much, unless we need to,” added Taylor. “We pride ourselves on running. If you can’t stop (the) run, then we’re going to keep running.”
“We just have a variety of different ways we can run at you,” Gasser added. “We can run it up the middle, we can run outside with me or Parker. We can go Matt on buck sweep, Chase in power. So, we’ve got a variety of options…and if we need to, we can throw the ball.”
Seven out of Southridge’s 10 games thus far has seen at least run of them rush for 100 yards, while four games has had multiple 100-yard rushers, while three of the four have been the team’s leading rusher in a given week. Springer has rushed for 849 yards and 16 touchdowns on 121 carries. Taylor owns 939 yards on the ground while carrying the ball 139 times for 11 scores. Gasser has 74 rushing attempts through the team’s first 10 games, gaining 877 yards and rushing for 11 touchdowns. Kippenbrock has ran for 303 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.
“We just try to run as hard as we can and run with a purpose,” Taylor said. “Parker can tell you he’s pretty good at running with a purpose, and Matt is, too. Cam just does his thing on the outside with his speed, and we get the job done.”
All of that productivity has Buening feeling good about the different options he has in the backfield.
“This is one of the better backfields I think we’ve had — talking depth and as a whole,” he said. “And we’ve even got guys on the bench who can come in and do really well, and it’s nice to be able to have that mixture of guys. It certainly makes it, I think, tougher defensively. If you’ve got one guy that you can key on or try to take away, that’s one thing, but when you’ve got multiple guys who are capable different things, then it certainly makes it tougher.”
Behind those individual statistics, though, is a brand of selflessness and focus on bigger things. Buening didn’t even know that Southridge has gained more rushing yards than its opponent in every game this season. He’s focused more on the offense creating explosive plays — something this year’s team knows a lot about. The four of them focus on different things, whether it’s running, blocking or carrying out their fakes, to name a few things.
“We don’t care who gets the ball as long as we get the job done,” Taylor said.
“Yeah, blocking is just as important as running,” Springer added.
Buening noted that his players blocking for one another has been integral to the kind of success the ground game has had in 2020. He told the Herald that the coaching staff preaches to the Raiders how they can affect the game without having the ball in their hands, and Buening thinks this group has done a good job of that. It doesn’t matter which of the three aforementioned things they’re doing in the moment — they just do what they’re supposed to be doing.
The four of them will try to help the Raiders reach their sixth consecutive sectional championship game on Friday when they host Gibson Southern in the semifinals. Southridge bested Gibson Southern, 48-28, Sept. 18 in the regular season, and gained 382 yards on the ground, compared to 59 rushing yards for the Titans. Taylor tossed three touchdowns on 126 passing yards and rushed for 133 yards on 26 carries.
But Gasser especially proved to be a problem for Gibson Southern that night, as he caught five passes for 98 yards and three scores, while running a lot on the jet sweep helped propel him to 11 carries on 158 rushing yards and another three touchdowns. Gasser told the Herald on Monday that he expects to try to them stop him, but it’ll be a good challenge. He believed blocking on the edge last time was key, and he praised Kippenbrock and Springer for doing well in that area. Gasser is expecting the same thing this time around.
“May the best team win, and hopefully that best team’s us,” Gasser said.
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