The defending 4A state champions opened their 2011 season at home with an 18-10 loss to Buhler. This year they will see Buhler in their first game again, but it will be in Buhler this time around. So will they give the Crusaders a home-opener loss in 2012, or will the Rose Hill Rockets lose to their only defeat from last season?
Coach: Greg Slade (entering his 14th season as Rose Hill head coach 92-56 overall)
2011 Recap: 13-1 overall, 4-1 in league, 3-0 in district, 4A state champion
Returning Starters: Offense 5, Defense 1
Returning Lettermen: 13
2012 District: Augusta, Wichita Collegiate, Wichita Trinity
Offense: The only non-senior who represented Rose Hill on last season’s All-League AVCTL Division III team was junior running back Jonny Pearson. In 2011, Pearson had 1,684 rushing yards and led the team with 30 touchdowns. The Rockets dominated their opponents by scoring 562 points last season, but their offense did graduate some key players.
Fifteen seniors were on last season’s roster including strong performers like all-league quarterback Derrick Decker and all-league second team running back Eastin Dockers. Decker produced big numbers for the Rockets as he averaged 83.6 passing yards per game and finished his career with a total of 1,087 passing yards in the 2011 season. However, Rose Hill will look to continue their offensive success with on-the-field leadership from Pearson and junior wide receiver Bret Waddell.
“We again have a strong returning senior class, and they have been working very hard this summer,” said Coach Slade.
The quarterback position may be up for grabs, but two contenders are senior TJ Slade and junior Jordan Reed. Both were listed on last season’s roster as quarterbacks behind Decker.
The Rockets will implement a one-back spread offense. Seniors Cody Walther, Connor Campbell, and Michael Cleveland will shield opposing defenses in order to create a lane for the running game and a hole for potential passes from the arm of their new quarterback.
Defense: After allowing only 9.9 points per game last year, it is safe to say Rose Hill has grasped their 4-3 defensive scheme, but it is also true that they have lost a good chunk of their defensive frontrunners.
Cody Carlson, Derrick Decker, and Hunter Lewis produced a load of tackles last season, and to make up for their numbers the Rockets have been reaching out for replacements.
“We are going to need our seniors and underclassmen to step in and fill some voids in our line-up and skill positions,” said Coach Slade.
Seniors Rayne Curtis and TJ Slade recorded a number of tackles last year, and will look to fill the shoes of the strong defenders from last season.
Odds and Ends: Rose Hill is tied with Thunder Ridge for the longest active winning streak in the state. Coach Slade is anxious for the end of the month, and he hopes that even with dangerous opponents the Rockets will keep up the good work.
“(We) always look forward to August for the start of the season,” said Coach Slade. “We open possibly with one of the toughest schedules around with Buhler, Andale, McPherson, Winfield, and Mulvane.”