The Rockets graduated several key contributors from the 2011 team, but head coach Colin Youde still has a talented bunch at his disposal.
"We have a good group of kids back, some nice leadership groups with Jeremy Sanchez and Cam Kuchel coming back," Youde said. "I'm pretty excited about the group of kids we have."
Senior quarterback Cam Kuchel returns under center. Kuchel was 67-for-137 passing for 932 yards and 16 touchdowns with six interceptions last fall. He also added two rushing touchdowns.
Sanchez led the Rockets in carries, yards and touchdowns last season as a junior. He carried the ball 158 times for 845 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 10 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
Sanchez is far from Kuchel's only weapon on offense. The Rockets had nine ball carriers score touchdowns last season and five different runners had more than 40 rushes.
"We're looking to spread the ball around to a ton of different people and try to make it difficult for other teams to plan for us," Youde said.
Junior Nick Braun ran 45 times for 445 yards and eight touchdowns. Junior Cole Owens ran 27 times for 190 yards and three touchdowns.
Graduates Alex Hansen, Colby Felts, Kipp Alesch and Kyle Frericks combined to catch 52 of Kuchel's 67 completions in 2011.
Senior Scott Schroeder returns to lead the offensive line at center and the defensive line at nose tackle. Sophomore Logan Sparr replaces his brother, Austin, at left guard and could rotate in at nose tackle. Junior Austin Felts will play right guard.
Senior Ethan Van Dam will man one tight end spot and junior Tanner Hilbrands will man the other one. Seniors Van Dam and Andrew Hagert will line up at defensive end.
"My offensive guys have been doing a really good job," Youde said. "I'm really quite happy with how the offensive guys have come. The defensive line guys, they're coming.
"It's getting to a point now where we need to see a new team to really figure out how good we're going to be at that spot. It's hard to tell against our guys sometimes because you see the same thing over and over again."
Alesch led the Rockets with 126 tackles last season. Junior Austin Schmidt was second on the team with 79. Van Dam tallied 52 tackles and 11 sacks, while Hilbrands finished with 49 total tackles.
"We're pretty excited about the district we're in," Youde said. "We think there is going to be some good competition, but we feel that we should be near the top of it -- competing for the district title with teams like Harris-Lake Park. We feel that Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn is going to be a solid team. Kingsley, obviously, has proven themselves over the last couple years to be a solid team as well.
"We feel that we're going to be right up in that mix, up there to challenge for that district title again and be in the running to go to the playoffs."
|Aug. 24||West Bend-Mallard|
|Aug. 31||at Graettinger-Terril|
|Sept. 7||Harris-Lake Park|
|Sept. 14||at Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn|
|Sept. 21||River Valley|
|Sept. 28||at Clay Central-Everly|
|Oct. 12||at Remsen St. Mary's|