BY DAVE PEDERSEN
Rockford started and finished the football season against Watertown-Mayer. The Rockets lost 17-7 against the Royals back on week one and earned a second chance in the semifinals of the Class 3, Section 2 tournament Saturday.
The No. 6 seeded Rockets took down No. 3 Minneapolis Patrick Henry 32-12 to open the playoffs. Another magical playoff run was not to be when losing 35-14 to No. 2 Watertown-Mayer.
Rockford fumbled the opening kickoff at its own five yard line, leading to the first WM score. After Watertown-Mayer made it 13-0, Rockford quarterback Brock Deering found Brody Harstad for a 27-yard touchdown pass.
In the second half, a bad snap on a Rocket punt attempt was covered by WM on the one, setting up a score and 20-6 lead. The Deering to Harstad pass combination produced a score from 18 yards out. After another WM touchdown, a Rockford fumble was recovered for the fourth time in the game, resulting in the final score of 35-14.
Deering was 12 of 18 passing for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Harstad had four catches for 78 yards. Jake Clouse led the way on defense with 17 tackles, followed by Kane Vogel with 11.
“It was a tough way to end the season,” said coach Dan Houghton. “We had three turnovers that were deep in our own territory. The score really doesn’t show how close this game was. We have a very young team and we got better throughout the year. I am very proud of this group and the effort they gave for each other, our school and our community.”
Against Patrick Henry, Rockford jumped to a 25-0 halftime lead, helped by a fumble recovery by Andrew VanDehey and a pass interception by Jeremy Bingham.
Deering was 10 of 16 passing for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Harstad had four receptions for 82 yards. Defensively, Vogel led the charge with 12 tackles.
For the season, Rockford finished 4-6 but was competitive in most games. Deering was 104 of 186 for 1,847 yards and 16 touchdowns, setting school records in several categories.
Deering broke the single season passing record set by Chris Hanson in 2005 (1,435 yards). His 1,937 yards of total offense broke the mark set by Ben Fontana in 2000 (1,762 yards). Deering also owns the Rockford career passing record held by Chris Hanson in 2005 with 3,843 yards. The team set a 2005 single season passing record with 1,877 yards.
For the season, Tommy Reinking carried the ball 132 times for 593 yards. Brendon Schumacher caught 25 passes for 476 yards and is now second all-time in career yards with 1,188. Harstad gained 506 yards on 23 pass receptions to ranks third all-time with 904 career yards. Bingham caught 10 passes for 351 yards.
Clouse now ranks second for most tackles in a season with 136 and is third with 241 career tackles. Other tackle leaders were Vogel 87, Schumacher 72, Sasha Galka 57, Alex Byers 45, Nick Hall 41 and Bingham 40.
Other team leaders included Clouse with 17 tackles for loss, Bingham with five passes knocked down and three interceptions, Byers and Hall with two forced fumbles and Clouse and Schumacher with two fumble recoveries.
“Next year we return seven offensive starters and 12 more with significant playing time,” adds Houghton. “Defensively, we return nine starters and 11 with significant playing time.”