BY DAVE PEDERSEN
CROW RIVER NEWS
Rockford will open the football season at home against Watertown-Mayer, the same team it played when ending last season.
It will be parent’s night when the Rockets play host to WM, 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28 in the first game. Watertown-Mayer defeated Rockford 35-14 in the second round of the section playoffs last season.
“We look to improve from last year,” believes coach Dan Houghton. “We finished 4-6 but lost some close games. We need to learn how to finish games. We bring back 16 starters, so we look to be competitive in all games and want to be playing well going into the playoffs.”
Rockford has some big shoes to fill at key positions such as quarterback, wide receiver, defensive back and on the offensive line. The kicking game also is an area of concern. There are good options with 66 players out for the team in grades 9-12.
“This offseason a lot of our players went out for winter and spring sports as a way to stay active and in shape, while getting the weight room time needed to get better,” said Houghton. “Our new Rocket Power summer conditioning program had several football players.”
Within Rocket Power there is football practice twice a week, players learning more about the ins and outs of this offense and defense.
Players also went to 7 on 7 passing league at Crown College and went to a team camp at Winona State University. Houghton says a large number of guys put in a lot of time preparing for this season.
On offense the Rockets return seven starters. Taking over at quarterback for three-year starter Brock Deering is senior Jake Clouse, who is 6-3, 195. Running back Tommy Reinking, wide receiver Jeremy Bingham and offensive lineman Duqueiro Cano are key returning offensive players notes Houghton. Sophomore Jacob Hall is the backup quarterback.
The offense includes senior tight end Andrew VanDehey, junior running back Jimmy Monssen , senior lineman Clayton Horn, junior lineman Sam Doboszenski, junior running back Tommy Train, junior wide receiver Hayden Roehl, junior lineman Grant Friedlein, junior running back Fordy Thorson, senior running back Kane Vogel, senior lineman Luke Schmitz, junior tight end Nick Selly, senior lineman Josh DeRoo, sophomore lineman Jake Schmitz, junior linemen CJ Hoffman, junior lineman Austin Johnson, plus senior wide receivers Alex Byers, Jon Olson, Hunter Smith and Ben Zilmer.
Nine starters return to the defense with key players said to be Clouse, Bingham and Vogel at linebacker, senior Nick Hall and Schmitz at tackle, VanDehey and Byers at defensive end and junior cornerback Tommy Traen.
Working at safety will be Reinking, Olson and senior Ben Skinner. Other defensive linemen are Jake Schmitz and Cano, plus juniors Brad Scribner and Sam Doboszenski. Selly, Monssen and Thorson are linebackers.
Smith can play at safety or defensive end. Senior Sam Schuneman is a senior defensive back. Byers showed his speed when he helped Rockford place second at a state meet relay event.
The football game set for Thursday, Aug. 28 will be at home, however fewer parking spots may be available. Attendants will direct cars to parking areas.
Rockford plays at home against Holdingford, Friday, Sept. 5, at Eden Valley-Watkins Sept. 12, at home against Kimball Sept. 19, at Maple Lake Sept. 26, at Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Oct. 3, at home to Pierz Oct. 10 and at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Oct. 15.