Posted: Jul 16, 2014 9:57 AM
|8 / 22||Lebanon||Home||Loss||31 - 48|
|8 / 29||Kickapoo||Away||Loss||35 - 57|
|9 / 5||Parkview||Home||Loss||43 - 64|
|9 / 12||Joplin||Home||Win||58 - 22|
|9 / 19||Waynesville||Away||Loss||15 - 23|
|9 / 26||Camdenton||Home||Loss||28 - 58|
|10 / 3||Glendale||Away|
|10 / 10||Hillcrest||Home|
|10 / 17||West Plains||Away|
|10 / 24||Districts|
Rolla football, it seems, is all too familiar with defeat; winning only one game last season, and bringing Coach Willie Howard's three year record to a disappointing 5-26. It is well known that in 2011, this football squad suffered from not only a young and inexperienced team, but also from injury. Yet, in 2012, Rolla was expected to bounce back from such heartache as they returned 30 lettermen. And again in 2013, there were high hopes. However, once again, each year, they fell short. Rolla is not ready to roll over and give up just yet, however. Coach Howard insists that his program "continue to learn the fundamentals" and focus more specifically this go-around "on controlling the clock and not making mistakes that cost our team chances to put points on the board." If this squad looks to compete, they will need to fight for their success every day -- raising their own personal bar for physical toughness in a very difficult Ozark Conference. In spite of their recent seasonal records, Howard recognizes however that this 2014 team has "a young core group of kids who are ready to achieve success." And thus, Rolla looks to take that positive attitude with them into the start of the 2014 season. And although this team will see many new, young faces at key positions, they tend to focus on the positive this preseason: the experience of their offensive returners.
Offensively, Rolla will return many of their skilled players at key positions including star senior running back Andy Satulla (5-9, 180) who rushed for 1,300 yards last season, earning himself a 1st Team All-Conference award. Handing the ball off to Satulla will be junior quarterback Kyle Morris (6-1, 180) looking to gain some poise and experience in Rolla's "split veer" formation. On the outside, look for senior wide receivers Collin Nash (5-10, 170) and Brad Lohr (5-7, 155) to extend the field in the passing game. The O-Line will be a big concern this year, as the majority will be replaced with younger and inexperienced newcomers. Howard is hoping the new guys can gel quickly with the returners, and perhaps a more successful offense can be built. Much of that pressure falls on the shoulders of senior guard Dalton Turner (6-1, 205) who earned an All-Conference nomination for his play in 2013. Dakota Cartwright (6-3, 265) will also add some size, strength, and experience to the front line, as senior Blaine Hrovat (5-7, 165) fills the tight end role.
Offensive Newcomers include running backs Brandon Sparks, Jakin Ellison, and Wyat Kinder. Junior Zach Brown will also see some snaps at the QB position. Coach Howard is also keen on newcomers Keegan Chrisco and Aita Ikuenobe at the receiver position.
Last year's graduating class adds more question marks for Coach Howard, as Rolla looks to replace the majority of the D-Line and defensive backfield. Although some youngsters received valuable playing time last season, due to injuries, there still remains an uphill battle to solidify this 4-3 defensive unit. Howard recognizes the "learning process" for the newcomers, but time is sparse for young teams trying to battle their way in this highly competitive Class 5 Ozark Conference. Up front on the D-Line is returner Tyler Hribar (6-0, 215). He will be joined by newcomer Jay Atherton. Protecting the passing game will be senior cornerbacks Landon Maynard (6-1, 170) and Collin Nash. The linebacker positions will be covered by the trifecta: junior Evan Voight (6-1, 205), and seniors Billy Brookshire (5-10, 145) and Andy Satulla.
Coach Howard would love nothing more than to forget about his 1-9 season -- undoubtedly a hard pill to swallow. He and his coaching staff remains optimistic however, as any good coach should be: "I am excited to see our returning players mesh with our newcomers." If they can accomplish this task, the Rolla team will fulfill their obligation with better ball control and a production worthy defense, capable of keeping them in some of the closer ball games. The opportunity lies with the players however -- and hopefully the veteran players are willing to take charge, along with their fellow newcomers when times get tough, and carry this team to a much needed winning season. But with weapons like Andy Satulla and Dalton Turner, Rolla has the building blocks for success, as long as they realize their potential and find leadership in all the right spots.
Pigskin's Pick: 3-6