Coach: Kyle Sprenkle (first season) // YAIAA Division I // District 3 // Class AAA
Zach Miller / GameTimePA.com
Spring Grove will have a new look this season, and they're confident it's a better look.
The Rockets roster won't look too different, as 18 starters are back, but they'll wear new helmets -- with the word "Rockets" plastered across the side -- and will be led by new coach Kyle Sprenkle. The rookie coach, who led the current group of seniors as the freshman coach in 2012, took over last winter, and he and his players agree they've already built some good chemistry.
"We've got a good group of core guys that have had some varsity experience, and it's making my job a little bit easier, relying on some of the veteran leadership that we have," Sprenkle said. "They have the exact right mentality that we're trying to preach of 'One game at a time.'"
The Rockets went 3-7 last season, but that record doesn't tell the whole story. They outscored their opponents over the course of the year, placing in the top 10 in the YAIAA in both total offense and total defense while seeing several key players miss time with injuries.
"It was a tough year last year, we lost a lot of close games, but we're returning a lot of guys," senior running back/linebacker Nick Erickson said. "For us to compete like we did last year, even though our record wasn't that great and didn't show what we really had, with so many returning guys this year, it's definitely a confidence booster. We've been working on that chemistry since this past winter."
Quarterback >> Sprenkle said he's very comfortable turning to junior quarterback Jake Messersmith, who showed growth during the offseason.
Running backs >> Sprenkle's offense calls for running backs to split out as slot receivers sometimes, and he feels he has a deep roster with several players who can do both.
Receivers >> Anthony Beddia and Adam Warehime provide experience on the outside.
Offensive line >> The Rockets line has plenty of size, but it is the least experienced unit on the offensive side of the ball.
Defensive line >> Senior Jaelen Green leads a group of big linemen with game experience.
Linebackers >> The Rockets need to replace leading tackler Zack Stauffer, but Erickson leads another experienced unit.
Secondary >> Ian Slaven was a coaches' first-team Division I pick last season, but the rest of the group lacks experience.
Senior Andrew Luckenbaugh handles the kicking and punting duties. He made a 47-yard field goal last season.
"Drew has been lights out since his freshman year," Erickson said of Luckenbaugh. "It's just great because even if we're out by the 30- or 40-yard line, we always have a chance to score."
Save the date >> No matter what happens to the Rockets this season, their home game against rival South Western on Nov. 6 will be a game to get excited about. It will be even more exciting if the Mustangs, who have high expectations, come in with a chance to lock up Division I.
Bottom line >> There's plenty of reasons for optimism in Sprenkle's first season, and morale is high. There's a feeling that this team didn't live up to its potential last season, and many of the players are back to try to prove it.
Date/Result // Opponent // Time/Score
L // Cumberland Valley // 0-33
W // @ Mechanicsburg // 17-14
L // @ York Suburban // 22-29
L // @ Dallastown // 10-20
W // New Oxford // 37-7
*W // William Penn // 48-20
W // @ Central York // 24-14
L // Northeastern // 0-30
L // @ Red Lion // 14-28
W // South Western // 28-21
District 3 Class AAA
- First Round // L // Manheim Central // 3-51
Result // Opponent // Score
L // Cumberland Valley // 17-21
W // Mechanicsburg // 17-7
W // York Suburban // 56-20
L // Dallastown // 3-20
W // New Oxford // 35-0
L // William Penn // 17-21
L // Central York // 21-38
L // Northeastern // 10-27
L // Red Lion // 28-41
L // South Western // 10-28