Thursday, July 18, 2013

Is it August yet? Get Read for Some Football !

Everything is a bit leaner this year around Rocket football’s preseason camp.

From the players to the coaching staff, everything is just a bit smaller than in years past. Pre-season drills began Monday at the high school.

The staff is down to three full-time coaches. Head Coach Al Starnes expects some volunteer help soon, but for now his assistant coaches are Jared Brown and Jeremy Wheeler, the team’s new defensive coordinator who replaces longtime coordinator Vince Clark following his retirement from coaching.

Theo Nichols and Aaron Berry are expected to join the staff soon as volunteers. Denis Hodge has moved down help head coach Donnie Morgan Phillips at the middle school. Both will also help on the varsity sideline on Friday nights.
The girth has gone from the trenches, too. Starnes says his team will be a bit smaller up front, but will rely on quickness to make up the difference.

The team returns just three players who started virtually every game last year. They are Travis Gilbert, Noah Dickerson and Brenden Phillips. Zack Tinsley, Dylan Hollis and Daniel Wagoner also were major contributors last year and will fill important roles this season, as will Lane Wallace, who was hurt most of last year.

“We are very inexperienced, but it may be the hardest working group I’ve ever had,” Starnes said. “They are very dedicated, hard-working and coachable.”

The Rockets will play just a nine-game schedule this season, and it will be a bit less difficult than the last few years. Gone from the lineup are Tilghman, Trigg County and Madisonville. New on the slate are Webster County, Fulton and Muhlenberg County. Other non-district games are with Marshall County, Union County and Hopkins Central in the Warrior Bowl. The district schedule includes Caldwell County, Murray and Ballard Memorial.

“Do I want to play a nine-game schedule, ‘No,’ but we were limited as to other teams that would play us,” Starnes said. “The only other games we could have picked up were with Madison Southern, McCracken County, Christian County or Fort Thomas Highlands.”

Starnes said coming off a rigorous schedule the last two years, he didn’t think his new inexperienced team would have the personnel to face much larger schools as those available for a 10th game.

“We tried to get another game in Illinois, Tennessee and Missouri,” he said. “There just weren’t any that would fit.”

The Rockets are looking for local corporate sponsorship for its Warrior Bowl. Its primary sponsor, the National Guard, has cut its financial commitment in half, the coach said. Anyone interested in partnering for the two-night bowl series should contact Starnes.