BY DAVE PEDERSEN
Last season it was a matter of time that led to Rockford’s 3-7 football season when losing four games in the last minutes as the team was so close to going 7-3.
For the second straight season Rockford was bumped from the playoffs by Providence Academy. Two years ago it was in the section title game and last year the 34-28 loss came in the second round.
Coach Dan Houghton returns five starters on offense and four on defense. There is a good turnout of 70 players in grades 9-12.
“We are very inexperienced varsity wise with the line play on both sides of the ball,” notes Houghton. “Once we get the line playing well and together we should start clicking on both sides of the ball.”
Senior quarterback Brock Deering will start for a third season and played as a ninth-grader. Houghton adds, “We want to run the ball, but if teams take that away, Deering is very capable of throwing the ball well with accuracy.”
Other returning varsity starters on offense are senior running back Sasha Galka, senior wide receivers Brendon Schumacher and Brody Harstad, senior lineman George Faue and junior lineman Kado Cano.
Returning to the defense are Schumacher, Galka, junior linebacker Jake Clouse and junior cornerback Jeremy Bingham. Returning with some varsity experience are junior running back Tommy Reinking and junior linebacker Kane Vogel.
Top contenders for varsity playing time are seniors Joe Agre and Max Gulsvig; juniors Andrew VanDehey, Luke Schmitz, Clayton Horn, Dylan Barningham, Nick Hall, Josh DeRoo and Alex Byers, plus sophomores Jimmy Monssen and Tommy Traen.
“We lost a lot of seniors that played significant minutes last year, so who will step up into those holes is a question,” says Houghton, who adds how the kicking game is also uncertain.
“We look to be competitive in all games, to improve each game and to be playing well going into the playoffs,” adds the coach. “This offseason a lot of our team went out for winter and spring sports as a way to stay active and in shape. We also had a large turnout in our Rocket Power summer lifting and conditioning program.”
Rockford also conducted a minicamp and went to a team camp at South Dakota State University. Houghton adds, “We had a large number of guys that put in a lot of time for this season.”
After opening the season at Watertown-Mayer, Rockford opens play at the new stadium at the high school, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6 against Eden Valley-Watkins. Fans will be invited on the field at halftime to check out the new turf.
Other home games are against Maple Lake Sept. 20, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Sept. 27 and Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Oct. 11.