Red Rock Central wants back in the section title gameLAMBERTON — After compiling an overall record of 7-4 and reaching the Section 3A championship game in the fall of 2010, the Red Rock Central Falcons took a bit of a step back last season by going 3-6 and losing in the first round of the playoffs.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
LAMBERTON — After compiling an overall record of 7-4 and reaching the Section 3A championship game in the fall of 2010, the Red Rock Central Falcons took a bit of a step back last season by going 3-6 and losing in the first round of the playoffs.
RRC allowed an average of 30.8 points per game defensively and scored 18 points or fewer in four different games offensively in 2011, ending the season by losing four of its final five games after going .500 (2-2) early on.
The Falcons also have a trio of Daily Globe All-Area performers to replace from last year’s squad, as Daniel Maras, Dylan Bunting and Nathan Mattison each graduated in the spring and leave some big shoes to fill for the 2012 campaign.
Maras (1,425 yards and 15 touchdowns at running back) and Bunting (1,548 yards and 16 touchdown passes at quarterback) combined to account for about 3,000 yards of total offense a season ago. Mattison (also a fullback) finished his four-year career with a school-record 413 tackles as a middle linebacker.
“We do have some holes to fill, especially in our offensive backfield,” summed up RRC head coach Isaac Jenniges, who begins his third season in charge of the Falcons. “But the good thing is that we have had a lot of competition for starting spots so far in our early-season practices, as the kids are bringing their best effort and working hard to get on the field.”
RRC does have several key players returning with experience on both sides of the ball, led by seniors Jeff DeCock (5-11, 165) and Henry Rogotzke (6-3, 275).
DeCock made the Daily Globe All-Area team in 2011 after catching 51 passes for 785 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns as the Falcons’ primary wide receiver. He is also projected to be RRC’s free safety on defense, making the move from his spot at cornerback last season.
“Jeff scored at least one touchdown in every game last season and has big-play ability,” Jenniges said. “He has pretty good speed and can really jump well, which allows him to make plays down the field. He will again be a go-to guy for us this year.”
Rogotzke is back for his third season on the offensive line, manning one of the tackle positions. He is expected to be the leader for the Falcons up front both ways, as Rogotzke also plays defensive tackle.
“We are looking for big things out of Henry,” Jenniges said. “We want him to take control as the leader of our offensive line and help the other guys out as much as possible. His physical presence and leadership skills will be important for us.”
Seniors Dylan Fullerton (6-3, 275) and Brian Hagberg (5-10, 210) are two more players who will anchor the Falcons’ offensive line, with Fullerton taking on the responsibility as the tackle opposite of Rogotzke.
Hagberg, along with seniors Tyler Halland (6-0, 215), Colton Determan (5-11, 220) and Jesse Polk (5-5, 175), will look to solidify the three interior spots along the offensive line (two guards and center).
The Falcons have several players competing for carries behind that veteran offensive line, and senior Mitchell Schroepfer (5-11, 170) appears to be the top candidate after moving from wide receiver to running back.
Junior Taylor Keairnes (5-9, 155), sophomore Dillion Benson (5-7, 150) and sophomore Jordan Schroepfer (6-0, 170) also figure to have plenty of opportunities to run the ball for RRC.
“Mitchell has a quick first step and can find the openings well with pretty good vision,” Jenniges said. “The other three are kind of our change-of-pace guys, giving teams another look and contributing in a slightly different manner.”
Senior Brady Bierl (6-2, 175) and sophomore Thomas Blomgren (5-8, 150) are currently vying for the starting job at quarterback, with Bierl the early front-runner to get the nod under center.
Bierl’s top targets as wide receivers and tight ends will be DeCock, senior Jesse Rogotzke (5-10, 170), senior Casey Engen (5-11, 165) and junior Sam Halter (6-1, 160). Seniors Adam Knorr (5-9, 150) and Maison Miller (6-1, 170) are also in the mix as pass catchers for the Falcons.
RRC will likely have many players going both ways in an “iron man football” approach, according to Jenniges.
“We will have lots of guys playing on both offense and defense,” Jenniges said. “That’s just the way it is for most small schools.”
Henry Rogotzke, Fullerton, Determan, Polk and Halland will bolster the Falcons’ defensive line as experienced tackles, while RRC will have an all-new crew of linebackers after losing its leading three tacklers from last season.
Mitchell Schroepfer (defensive end in 2011) and Hagberg (defensive tackle in 2011) are changing positions to fill the open spots at inside linebacker, while Jordan Schroepfer, Benson, Keairnes, Knorr, Miller and junior Taylor Lopez (5-8, 170) are all challenging for time at either outside linebacker or defensive end — depending upon the Falcons’ alignment within the front eight.
“We are looking for someone to step up and make plays at linebacker,” Jenniges said. “We have several good prospects, but we’ll need to find a leader or two within that group to really step it up a notch and get the job done.”
Engen, Jesse Rogotzke, Halter, junior Derek Christians (5-9, 140) and junior Tanner Pederson (5-10, 140) are among the players who will round out the Falcons’ defense as cornerbacks and safeties, joining DeCock in the defensive backfield.
“We need to improve our tackling fundamentals, as we are really striving to get better defensively as a whole,” Jenniges said. “We are also working on pass-coverage responsibilities and making sure that everybody knows their role on defense. We’re looking to get better every day.”
RRC opened the season last night by hosting Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s and will play again at home next Friday when it entertains Springfield in Lamberton.