Southridge's Jochem making name for self

Photo by Kylie Schepers/Special To The Herald
Southridge senior Aidan Jochem (8) carries the ball Friday night at Raider Field against Pike Central. Jochem ran for 63 yards and three touchdowns for his fourth multi-touchdown game of the season. The Raiders won, 58-0. 

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG - Southridge coach Scott Buening remembers telling somebody this summer that Aidan Jochem might be the best player in the area that nobody had ever heard of.

Yet, the senior fullback's production to this point is bound to leave more people knowing who he is, and if some still don't know, they might want to start paying attention. He went for 63 rushing yards and another three touchdowns as the Raiders (2-2, 1-1) downed Pocket Athletic Conference Small School Division foe Pike Central, 58-0, Friday night.

Jochem had previously been a running back during middle school and his freshman year, but he was previously a tight end before being converted to fullback this year. So, the Southridge senior's memory needed some jogging on how to do things.

"I kind of remember of the plays, but really, it was all a wash from the memory," Jochem said.

Buening knew he wanted Jochem in the backfield this year, but he also went into the summer knowing the senior wouldn't be a sure thing at fullback. The ninth-year coach told of offensive coordinator Brad Ohanian fighting hard to get Jochem at the position.

Buening wouldn't say he was hesitant to move Jochem, but he knew what a difference maker he was at tight end. As he put it, Jochem was dominant - a word he doesn't use loosely. The Raiders had a bunch of options with the ground game like Chase Taylor, Camden Gasser and Matt Springer, and he thought Jochem would've fit well in the backfield last year, but he was needed at tight end.

He knew that Jochem was a strong and athletic player who could run, but track athletes don't always transition well to the running back spot. Yet, Jochem's vision and instincts have exceeded his expectations. Buening noted that it's tough to coach backs because they either have a feel for things or they don't, and he recalled specifically when he knew Jochem's move to his new role could pay off.

"When we went to team camp this summer, I think that was the thing that jumped out real quick was, 'Alright, yeah, he's got that stuff, and he's got a lot of that that we can't coach into kids,'" Buening said.

It was weird for Jochem during the first two-to-three weeks of football to leave his old tight end position behind and get used to his new spot. He went from a block-heavy position to one with new blocking assignments on every play and lining up differently on offense.

Yet, Jochem has relished his new role, and is excelling in it. Buening noted after the Aug. 27 win against Boonville that there are no feature backs in Southridge's system, but after Friday's game, Jochem has 459 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns - recording at least two rushing scores in every game so far this season.

"(Southridge's linemen are) the people that make the play go," he said. "I got the easy job. I just got to get the ball and run. When they're blocking well, scoring's easy. So, I got to give it to them."

A back crediting his offensive line for his success is fairly common, but Buening gave Jochem his due as a ball carrier.

"He's made some plays this year when there's no hole, there's no opening," he said. "A touchdown at North Posey - the hole was totally closed up. And he reverses ground, totally cuts back, runs totally across the field, outruns a couple kids for a touchdown.

"Against Boonville, he had a touchdown that he stuck it up in there," Buening added. "There wasn't anything there. He spun off a kid, bounced out, runs to the sideline and scores."

Listed at six feet tall and 197 pounds, Jochem has the size and believes he is a hard runner who can take contact well, but also can be shifty.

Indeed, there's more to Jochem's game that meets the eye, and everything he brings in addition to his size is an unprecedented thing that stands out to Buening.

"Cole Calvert was a kid who was a strong kid, upwards of 190 and he was a bull in a china shop and just a tough, tough kid and really hardnosed runner," he said. "Aidan's similar, but Aidan's got a little bit more of a combination of he's not just that."

Jochem may be thriving out of the fullback position in 2021, but that's not to say it's been without its challenges. He told The Herald how tiring playing running back can be.

"At tight end, you really didn't have to run around so much," Jochem said. "So, I think it was definitely kind of shocking how much more conditioned I had to get. After the first game, I realized running around so much, you get a lot more tired."

So, he's taken it upon himself to do more sprints on the weekends and with some friends after practice - making sure to run whenever he can to get his lungs up.

"I tell you, we ask a ton out of that young man," Buening said. "He's playing safety, outside linebacker - doesn't get any plays off. He's involved heavily in every single offensive play we have, whether runner, blocker or a guy carrying out a fake. And there's a lot of running involved with that. When you're 200 pounds and built like he is, that takes a lot of toll on your body."

Those are just some of the many hats he wears as a leader and team captain. Jochem was vocal last year, but he's a lot more vocal now, speaking up to his teammates when coaches are done after practices, or getting on them when it's warranted.

Above all, he wants to win, and he feels no pressure being a senior with a bigger role on a team that graduated so much from last year's regional championship season.

"It doesn't matter where you're playing - if you're a Raider, you're a Raider," he said. "That's all that really matters. You're playing Raider Football."




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