Effective Rocket offense could not keep pace with Providence Academy
BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Rockford’s offense came alive in the section football playoffs but did not have enough shelf life to take out No. 1 seed Providence Academy.
The Rockets, shutout by Holdingford in the last regular season game, opened the Class 3A, Section 2 playoffs as the No. 5 seed with a 37-14 victory over No. 4 Breck.
The offense stayed effective at Providence Academy Saturday but not as much as the top seed, winning 34-28.
“It was a tough way to end the season,” said coach Dan Houghton. “Our guys were looking forward to getting the opportunity to knock off the team that knocked us out last year, but we just didn’t make enough plays.”
Rockford was quick out of the gate against Breck, scoring a pair of early touchdowns on runs by Nick Suardi and Jordan Redepenning. Breck responded with a 36-yard touchdown pass.
The Rockets came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter. Suardi scored on a 7-yard run, Tommy Reinking caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brock Deering, Zach Nelson’s quarterback sack resulted in a safety and Reinking added a 15-yard TD run upping the score to 37-7 after three quarters.
Suardi rushed for 155 yards on 19 carries. Reinking had five carries for 61 yards, Redepenning gained 34 yards on five carries and Deering rushed the ball eight times for 32 yards. Deering also was 4 of 5 passing for 62 yards.
Defensively, linebacker Jake Clouse led the way with 15 tackles. Sophomores Kane Vogel and Jeremy Bingham both had six tackles and Ben Arens intercepted a pass.
Last year the Rockets lost to Providence Academy 15-14 in the section title game. This time around, Rockford got on the board first with an 88-yard kickoff return for touchdown by Suardi.
The Lions responded with a 4-yard scoring run. Deering countered with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Arens. Providence Academy roared back to score twice more before the half, taking a 21-12 lead.
In the second half both teams moved the ball without scoring until 2:30 minutes left in the third quarter when the Lions scored on a 17-yard screen pass.
The Rockets battled back with a long drive, capped by a 2-yards run by Suardi. Deering passed to Brendon Schumacher on the 2-point conversion, cutting the lead to eight.
Rockford’s defense made the stop, followed by a 31-yard Rocket touchdown pass from Deering to Brody Harstad. Deering ran in the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 28.
With five minutes left in the game, Rockford’s offense took over and drove to the Lion’s 15. Deering was sacked on both third and fourth down. Providence Academy finished the game with a 1-yard pass with 12 seconds to play to pull out the hard fought win.
Suardi ran for 131 yards and Deering was 7 of 14 passing for 113 yards. Defensively, Arens led the charge with 11 tackles, followed by Clouse and Dylan Fitzsimmons with eight each.
“The thing I love about this group of young men is they never quit throughout the season, during practice or in this last game when down by 16 points with 14 minutes to play,” said Houghton. “Within five minutes we tied the game. I am very proud of this group.”
Rockford ended at 3-7 on the season, Deering passed for 1,095 and eight touchdowns. Suardi gained 932 yards with eight touchdowns. His single season total is third in school history.
Schumacher caught 26 passes for 422 yards and four touchdowns. Harstad caught 23 for 398 yards.
Clouse paced the defense with 103 yards, followed by Arens with 99, Logan Suko 83, Sasha Galka 79, Fitzsimmons 57, Nelson 51 and Karsten Poulsen 47. Alex Shaikoski and Jeremy Bingham both knocked down five passes. Arens had two interceptions and Poulsen had 12 tackles for loss, plus two fumble recoveries.
Next year Rockford returns eight offensive players with significant playing time and five on defense.