Coach: Andy Stoner (7-23) // Mid Penn Colonial // District 3 // Class AAA
Lizi Arbogast / GameTimePA.com
Uncertainties and questions are the name of the game for James Buchanan prior to the start of football season.
The Rockets return just five combined starters, and there are only 32 players on the roster.
“We’re definitely concerned about depth, but that’s something that hasn’t changed since I’ve been here,” JB coach Andy Stoner said. “I like what I see out of our guys. We have guys that are committed now and guys that are working more than a couple months out of the year. But how that will shake out on Friday nights? That remains to be seen.”
The defense is likely the biggest unknown for the Rockets, who finished 3-7 last year. Only one of the back seven return, but Stoner is confident in the replacements that have emerged.
Caden Ficks and Hunter Spoonhour will play at outside linebacker, while Kenny Gordon will hold down the inside spot. Dillon Sanders will anchor one of the cornerback position, opposite either Clayton Bendell or Clay Ziemba. Remi Spoonhour will serve as a free safety.
“Dillon (who is also the starting quarterback) has put himself in that position to play both ways,” Stoner said. “He’s brought a lot of heart and attitude to the defensive back position, and that’s what we’re going to need because there are some receivers in our league that are pretty good.”
One defensive area where the Rockets are especially confident is the line. Zane Bray, Judson Iverson and four-year starter Dustin Walker all return, and all three will play on both the offensive and defensive lines.
“Zane and Judson are a year more mature, and we see that in them,” Stoner said. “We’re going to be relying on them a lot more. We have a couple new guys at guard, but we feel that this is one of our strengths. We have guys that have worked their tails off since January to become bigger, faster and stronger.”
Size hasn’t always been to the Rockets’ advantage, but this year is a bit different. Bray is 5-foot-10, 226 pounds, Iverson is 5-8, 247 pounds and Walker weighs in at 5-8, 236 pounds.
“We had about two weeks off this summer, but other than that, we’ve lifted just about every day,” Iverson said. “You can tell the difference, too. For the kids who didn’t come out (in the offseason), you can tell they’re worn out and not ready to work.”
Sanders also feels very good about the line he’ll have in front of him offensively.
“I’m more confident in them than I have been in the past years,” Sanders said. “Sometimes in the past, I was scrambling a lot, but this year, when we went to camp, the guys were really able to hold their own when they were one-on-one with somebody. I think they’re doing a great job.”
Next to Sanders will be fullback Seth Carbaugh, who led the run game last year with 347 yards on 111 carries. He scored six touchdowns. Evan Stoner will play halfback.
Carbaugh and Sanders, along with Walker, are in an interesting position because the trio has now been with coach Stoner on varsity for four years – the length of his head coaching tenure.
“There’s a good bit of pressure on us,” Walker said. “We have that experience of actually going out on the field where a lot of the other kids only have a year, if even that.”
The Rockets’ starting receivers, Bendell and Ziemba, are both relatively new to varsity action, taking over the spots of top receivers Peter Hughey and Blake Egolf.
“Both of those guys are 6-1, so we want to use their height to our advantage as best as we can,” Stoner said. “If anyone watched us toward the end of the season, we spread things out because we put our best athlete (Shamar Pates) at quarterback.
“Now this year, I think we have our athlete again at quarterback (Sanders) with another athlete at fullback (Carbaugh), so you might see us spreading people out.”
That brings up the final, and probably biggest question, for the Rockets: How does a team replace Pates, the reigning Public Opinion Football Player of the Year?
“You don’t,” Stoner said. “You gotta use a bunch of different people to help out and do what he did. We’ve changed some things this year, but I feel the guys are more comfortable in knowing and understanding what we’re doing out there.”
Now it’s just a matter of if they can put that plan into action.
Date/Result // Opponent // Time/Score
L // Hanover // 0-33
L // @ // Fairfield // 34-6
9/18 // @ // Camp Hill // 7 p.m.
9/25 // @ // Northern // 7 p.m.
10/2 // Big // Spring // 7 p.m.
10/9 // @ // East Pennsboro // 7 p.m.
10/16 // Greencastle-Antrim // 7 p.m.
10/23 // Waynesboro // 7 p.m.
10/30 // @ // Shippensburg // 7 p.m.
11/6 // Susquehanna Township // 7 p.m.
Result // Opponent // Score
W // Hanover // 33-19
L // Fairfield // 12-16
L // Camp Hill // 14-42
L // Northern // York // 7-21
W // Big Spring // 28-17
L // East Pennsboro // 0-46
L // Greencastle-Antrim // 28-31
L // Waynesboro 21-54
W // Shippensburg 14-0
L // Susquehanna Township // 6-73
|1. Clayton Bendell||11||6’0||163||WR/DB|
|2. Kyler Atherton||10||5’9||158||HB/DB|
|5. Carlos Rauch||10||5’8||136||WR/DB|
|9. Seth Carbaugh||12||5’11||196||FB/OLB|
|10. Clay Sanders||10||5’8||150||WR/DB|
|11. Remi Spoonhour||10||5’10||162||QB/FS|
|12. Dillon Sanders||12||5’11||195||QB/OLB|
|13. Caden Ficks||10||5’9||153||RB/OLB|
|14. Chas Shelly||12||5’10||185||K/ILB|
|16. Anthony Bookwalter||11||5’8||168||WR/ILB|
|20. Hunter Spoonhour||12||5’10||185||FB/OLB|
|22. Evan Stoner||11||5’5||164||HB/OLB|
|23. Hunter Gates||12||5’7||130||WR/DB|
|24. Colby Bradshaw||11||5’9||154||HB/OLB|
|40. Kenny Gordon||11||5’9||184||FB/ILB|
|50. Judson Iverson||11||5’8||247||T/DT|
|51. Dustin Walker||12||5’8||236||C/DT|
|52. Sean Bankson||10||5’10||191||G/ILB|
|55. Cody Straley||11||5’10||184||G/DE|
|57. Cainan Curfman||12||6’1||178||G/DE|
|58. Canden Krenzer||10||5’0||276||T/DT|
|60. Zane Bray||11||5’10||226||T/DT|
|64. Matt Stuff||11||6’1||277||K|
|65. Jackson Ellis||10||6’1||170||G/DE|
|70. Colton Beckman||11||5’7||182||C/DT|
|75. Zach Devotie||10||6’0||210||T/DT|
|77. Trevor Layton||11||5’8||178||G/DT|
|78. Ben Gipe||12||5’10||198||T/DT|
|81. Isaac Miller||10||5’10||123||WR/DB|
|86. Clay Ziemba||12||6’1||166||WR/DB|
|87. Griffin Kannel||11||5’7||132||WR/DB|
|89. Brian McCauley||12||6’1||172||TE/DE|