Brian Schumaker has done yeoman’s work on his blocking with assistant coach Dale Backlund.
Schumaker, a Newark Catholic senior, however, is like any other running back. Nothing beats actually carrying the football.
“I like running,” Schumaker said. “It is always something I have felt I was good at. This year, I have been pretty productive in the carries that I’ve had.”
Schumaker made the most of a rare carry a week ago, running for 27 yards on the first play of the second half. His run sparked a 10-play scoring drive, which was capped by Chayce Crouch’s 1-yard touchdown run, and gave the Green Wave the final points in their 20-13 victory against Glouster Trimble in a Division VI regional semifinal.
When NC (10-2) meets Danville (11-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Westerville Central, the Green Wave for the third straight week will meet an opponent with a prolific offensive player. Throughout the season, the Green Wave have proven the sum is better than the parts.
“I know that is one of my main roles — blocking for the team,” Schumaker said. “I love that. But when I get the ball and am able to make a run like that, yeah, it’s a reward for me.”
Kevin Bourne, the Green Wave’s leading rusher, just slipped past 500 yards for the season a week ago. Anthony Wing has more than 400 yards, and Schumaker is inching toward 300. No NC receiver has more than 25 catches or 400 yards.
Nobody can get too greedy in the NC offense.
“That is one of the biggest things we have on this team is we are able to run the ball,” Schumaker said. “If we can’t do that, we are able to go to the air and make some big plays with the pass game.”
In week 11, NC limited Fairfield Christian star Ben Tobin to 133 yards rushing on 32 carries. A week ago, Trimble quarterback Konner Standley had 268 total yards, but the Green Wave intercepted him twice, including once in the end zone, and recovered a fumble of his to lead to a score.
This week’s opponent is Danville quarterback Bryce Staats, who was named the Division VI Central District offensive player of the year Tuesday. Staats is a true dual threat in the Blue Devils’ spread offense, passing for 2,366 yards and 25 touchdowns and running for 1,218 yards and 11 scores.
Receivers Corey Geog, 56 catches, 837 yards and 11 touchdowns, and Cade Mickley, 43 catches, 542 yards and five scores, are Staats’ top targets. When Danville does use a running back, Kyle Shultz gets the carries, running for 401 yards and 11 scores.
“I get excited when we hear about major players, like a running back or a quarterback,” Schumaker said. “I know I get to go up against them and see what they can do on us. It is a great experience for us to go up against people like that.”
Bishop Ready had an even balance of 222 yards rushing and 206 passing in a 34-20 season-opening victory at NC. Since, it is a safe bet every one of the Green Wave’s opponents has taken a look at that tape.
NC has stood up to every challenge since. The Green Wave have allowed less than 10 points per game in winning 10 of their past 11 games.
“Teams that don’t improve during the season aren’t playing in November,” NC coach Bill Franks said. “We have definitely improved weekly. This week is a great challenge. We have a prolific offense, so we are going to have to play a great game.”