desktop...

Overcast
52°FOvercastFull Forecast

Rockets finding new targets

Published: Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 12:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 12:16 a.m. CST
Caption
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Rock Falls' Austin Donoho fights through a Rockford Lutheran tackle during a game last season. The Rockets will need players like Donoho to fill the void left in the receiving corp because of graduation.

Last season quarterback Jacob Mammosser completed an area-high 180 passes.

Of the those 180 receptions, only 21 of those passes were caught by players that will suit up for Rock Falls on Friday night in the season opener against Harvard at Hinders Field.

That doesn't mean the Rockets plan of attack will be any different. The weapons will just have to change.

Running back Brendon LeBarron is the returning leader in receptions with 10 for 109 yards. Austin Donoho was right behind with nine receptions for 201 yards, and Lucas Newburgh caught two for 38 yards.

A new weapon will be Connor Cain. The junior wideout lights up knowing that he'll have an active night against Harvard.

"That's the great part of this offense," Cain said. "It's fun. It's high speed. We know that other teams don't see something like this often, so they have to spend a lot of time preparing for all the things that we do."

Head coach Scott Berge, who was the offensive coordinator a year ago, has spent the first 2 weeks of practice installing his spread attack despite decreased practice time.

"The kids have really done an excellent job learning the system," Berge said. "We've thrown a lot at them in a short time. We've had the number of practices reduced, but that hasn't slowed them."

It will be imperative that the Rockets' offense start the game humming. A year ago, the team averaged 28 points per game, but the defense allowed 36.

"We know that we have to do our part to support the defense," Cain said. "We have to come out and put some points on the board. The defense is going to be better than last year, but it'll depend on us to help them out."

Harvard went 5-4 last season, including a 25-20 win over the Rockets to open the year. The Hornets return 13 starters, including both of their starting guards on the offensive line.

Running behind them will be junior running back Christian Kramer, who rushed for 970 yards and nine TDs a year ago.

"He's a real jitterbug back there," Berge said. "He's not real big, but he can make a move and then be gone. Fortunately, our strength on defense should be our speed."

The Rockets, who haven't won the first game of the season since 2003, know that coming out strong could be the key to returning to the playoffs for the first time since 1992.

"They are a physical team, and we are going to respond to that," Cain said. "Most of the teams in our conference are going to play a similar style. If we can match them on Friday, it'll give us confidence for the rest of the season."

 

National video

Reader Poll

How should President Obama handle immigration reform?
Act unilaterally
Work with Congress
Do nothing
I don't know