For a regular in the backfield, Nathan Schumacher doesn't get his hands on the football very often.
The Grand Forks Red River High School starting fullback has only 19 carries for the 3-2 Roughriders, good for 89 yards. That's OK with the senior; Schumacher is looking for hits, not carries.
"If I help the team by carrying the ball, that's what I'll do,'' the senior said. "But, honestly, I like getting out and hitting guys more. I like getting physical. That's why football is my favorite sport.''
Instead of rushing yards, Schumacher is accumulating big-hit honors.
After each game, the Roughrider coaches present the bat award for the biggest hit in a game on offense and the sledgehammer award for the biggest hit on defense. Schumacher has won the bat four straight games and the sledgehammer once.
He took both honors in last week's 16-8 win against West Fargo. Schumacher's open-field block cleared Tanner Bernhardson for a big gain, part of a 168-yard rushing game for the junior. On the defensive side, his big hit came when he burst up the middle and wrapped up Cooper Sahli for a sack and a seven-yard loss.
"Nathan is probably our most explosive hitter,'' Riders coach Vyrn Muir said. "We were running a lot of toss plays to Tanner and Nathan was taking guys out. He played a huge part in Tanner's game. More often than not, when Tanner got the ball, Nathan was out in front lead blocking.’’
Schumacher also has seven receptions for 98 yards. On defense, he's made the shift from starting end as a junior to starting middle linebacker.
"Defensive end was fun,'' the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Schumacher said. "But I've been happy with the change to linebacker.''
Red River hosts Fargo Davies (3-2) at 7 tonight and its defense will try to slow an Eagles team that totaled 592 yards in offense last Friday in a 58-21 win against Grand Forks Central.
In other games involving Greater Grand Forks teams today:
Leading rusher Ethan Trebil will play in the Green Wave’s 6 p.m. game after suffering a leg injury on the final play of last Friday’s 20-14 loss to Fergus Falls.
“It looked really bad when Ethan went down,’’ EGF coach Ryan Kasowski said. “But he’s good to go. That’s huge for us.’’
The Prowlers, outscored 157-32 this season, opened the year with a run-oriented offense, but have switched things. “They’ve gone to a spread offense, throwing the ball all over the place,’’ Kasowski said.
Central faces another high-powered offense in the 7 p.m. game. South’s Wyatt Hanson has passed for more than 1,300 yards and Danny Lahai has rushed for almost 900 yards.
“We got a taste (of speed) last week,’’ Central coach Bill Lorenz said. “Our big concern is limiting their big plays. We have to contain, to keep them between the tackles.’’
Central’s Will Eagleson suffered a season-ending knee injury against Davies.
Polk County West sophomore quarterback Sam Modeen has thrown for more than 100 yards in each of the past two games in PCW’s traditionally run-oriented offense.
“Sam’s getting more comfortable,’’ PCW coach Darrin Byklum said. “He’s throwing well and we’ve given him good protection. But we have to pass block and run block to be successful. Our run blocking has been a problem.’’
Warroad is winless, but two of its losses were by only four points. The game is at 7 p.m.