Wittenberg sophomore running backs Dehnke, Gary happy to share load

Wittenberg running backs Jimmy Dehnke and Sean Gary need a new nickname.

So far, the best they’ve got is the “one-two punch.” They are that, for sure. You might also call them the “Super Sophs,” or if you’re into combining names, “Denny’s” or “Shimmy.” Assistant coach Michael Cooper suggested that last one.

Wittenberg’s passing game gets most of the attention for good reason. Entering today’s 1 p.m. home against Ohio Wesleyan, the Tigers rank 20th in the nation with 295.6 passing yards per game.

Of course, the running game opens up the passing game. Gary and Dehnke split carries and rush for 62.7 and 60.7 yards per game, respectively. Gary has six touchdown runs, and Dehnke has three. They also each have eight receptions.

Dehnke, a 6-foot, 200-pound sophomore from Massillon Jackson, was the featured back last season. He’s happy to share the load this season.

“I’m staying a lot fresher after games and staying healthy,” he said, “switching series like we are.”

Gary, who’s also listed at 6-0 and 200 pounds, saw limited action as a freshman: 22 carries in seven games. He said he came into camp in better shape this season. Coaches noticed. Coach Joe Fincham mentioned him early in August as someone whose role would grow this season.

Gary, from Decatur Central High School (Ind.), rushed for 110 yards in Wittenberg’s first victory against DePauw. He’s also glad to split carries with Dehnke.

“When one of us gets tired, we put another guy in there,” he said. “A fresh pair of legs.”

Notes: Wittenberg (6-1, 6-0 North Coast Athletic Conference) climbed from 18th to 17th in the D3Football.com poll this week. It fell from 15th to 14th in the American Football Coaches Association poll. … Ohio Wesleyan (4-3, 3-3) leads the NCAC in passing offense (350.9). Quarterback Mason Espinosa has thrown 16 touchdown passes and four interceptions. … This is the 88th meeting between the two programs. Wittenberg has won four straight. They tied for the NCAC title last season when they didn’t play.

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