BY DAVE PEDERSEN
Rockford’s football players were upbeat and thinking positive when entering the section football playoffs this week despite ending the regular season with a 42-0 loss to Holdingford last week.
Given the No. 6 seed, Rockford (3-5) opened section play at No. 3 Minneapolis-Patrick Henry (5-3) Tuesday, after this issue went to press. The winner takes on No. 2 Watertown-Mayer at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26.
One reason why the Rockets have reason to think they can make a run in the playoffs is the team entered the tourney in a similar spot the past two seasons. In both cases Rockford posted upsets in first-round wins while losing to section champ Providence Academy in close games.
Coach Dan Houghton said his team can defeat top section teams despite having a losing record because of a tough conference that gets Rockford ready for the playoffs. Holdingford was the undefeated Central Minnesota Conference champion, for example.
Another plus is that Rockford gained confidence by defeating some good teams and finished the season tied for fourth in the conference, the highest finish since 2007 when Rockford went to the state tournament.
The Rockets also have some big play makers and players who are ranked high in the league stats. Senior quarterback Brock Deering, the league passing leader, is a three-year starter with valuable playoff experience. As a sophomore he helped Rockford upset top-seeded DeLaSalle in the first round.
Other offensive starters for Rockford in the playoffs are running backs Tommy Reinking and Jake Clouse, wide receivers Brendon Schumacher and Brody Harstad, tight end Andrew VanDehey and linemen Duqueiro Cano, George Faue, Joseph Agre, Dylan Barningham and Clayton Horn. Top reserves are running backs Kane Vogel, Sasha Galka and Tommy Traen, wide receiver Jeremy Bingham, tight end Luke Schmitz and linemen Sam Doboszenski and Nick Hall.
Defensive starters are ends Alex Byers and VanDehey, linemen Hall, Max Gulsvig and Schmitz, linebackers Clouse, Vogel and Reinking and defensive backs Bingham, Schumacher and Traen. Top reserves on defense are Galka, Doboszenski, Faue, Cano and Harstad.
Against Holdingford, Rockford fell behind 28-0 at the half with one highlight being an interception by Clouse. Houghton said how dropped passes and penalties kept the Rockets off track much of the game. One fumble came when Rockford drove to Holdingford’s half yard line.
Tackle leaders were Clouse (15), Vogel (9) and Hall (6). Deering was 15 of 27 passing for 174 yards. Reinking rushed the ball 10 times for 31 yards and caught four passes for 57 yards. Vogel gained 28 yards on three rushes. Bingham caught three passes for 39 yards. Schumacher had three catches for 30 yards and Harstad gained 29 yards on three receptions.
Houghton adds, “We just need to get back to playing fundamental football going into the playoffs so we can make another run.”