By RANDY GREGORY
The 2013 forecast for the offense of the Rockford varsity football team has a familiar look in that nearly the entire unit is new. It is a common issue in high school football to have so much turnover, but it is even more pronounced at Rockford where the competition for starting spots is intense and a three-year player is rare.
The only player on the entire offense who will return to the same starting position he played at last season is Austin McKellar. The only caveat to that is that McKellar was slated to begin last year as a wide receiver but was forced into the quarterback slot when Kyle Short and Erik Barker suffered injuries. So while McKellar’s strengths tend to be more on the receiving side rather than delivering the football, the Rams will make due according to varsity head coach Ralph Munger.
“Austin (McKellar) has a great deal of mobility and at least has some experience at the quarterback position,” said Munger. “We will utilize his assets at the position and come up with the best game plan that benefits the team. Austin will need to blossom immediately as a leader for our offense and he has shown he is very capable. It is also nice to watch the development of Landen Haney and Tyler Bradfield as quarterbacks. They are both beginning to show much more regular flashes of the talent they possess.”
The Rams do have a few players who saw significant time last year on the offensive line and even started several games. Seniors Michael Harrigan and Ethan Lussky weigh in at 275 and 285 pounds respectively and will reprise their roles as tackles. Vance Powell is the early projected starter at center and the rest of the line looks to be Derek Scholl, Ryan McAnelly and Brandon Houle.
Jimmy Scales and Ben Sims are the leaders in the clubhouse at tight end. Scales saw some time there last year as well. Josh Olson leads the corps at wide receiver and is joined by a slew of other potential receivers including Zach Sargent and Spencer Andrus, who will also start depending on which formation the Rams come out in offensively.
The running back situation is projected to be the same as it nearly annually is under Munger and that is “running back by committee”. Munger lists no fewer than five starters on his first team list led by junior Ethan LaCourt and seniors Darian Vaughn and CJ Farmer (who all saw some time at running back last year) . Juniors Jake Sendzik and Chris Bell round out the lengthy slate of ball carriers.
Munger sees several strengths and several areas where improvement will be necessitated quickly by his largely novice group on the offensive side.
“We have great leadership from our four senior captains in Randy Garvin, Brent Showers, Austin McKellar and Trevor Coughlin,” said Munger. “We have excellent TEAM chemistry and a solid work ethic while possessing a great attitude and being very mature. It may be a little slow at first due to the graduation losses on the offensive line, but watch for steady progress for this unit as the season progresses. We really have to establish a consistent rushing attack so we can utilize the passing game. We have a long way to go but this team is willing to put in the work necessary to reach the level we are accustomed to.”