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August 20, 2013

High school football season preview: Rockville hopes to battle for playoff slot

Class A Sectional 47

ROCKVILLE — When Herb King says there could be five teams from Class A Sectional 47 that get votes in this year’s high school football poll, the Rockville coach — whose team is in that sectional — isn’t being pessimistic. Far from it.

Even though North Vermillion has a veteran team that’s won two straight sectionals, and Fountain Central is a Class 2A power dropping back down, and Attica and North Central are also very strong … well, that’s just four. Who says Rockville can’t be the fifth?

“The coaches go home smiling every night,” King said recently.

Rockville was 4-6 a year ago but with a team that had just two seniors. The players that are returning have gotten better — maybe so much better they’ve discouraged some of their classmates from joining them.

“Our numbers are down,” King noted, “but we’ve practiced very well so far. We’re much farther along [than at this point last year], we’re stronger, we’re more physical and we’re a lot more athletic.

“We’re just a year older and a year better,” the coach summarized.

If there’s a pleasant surprise for the Rox this fall, it’s probably the offensive line. Senior Alec Dalton (6-foot-2, 220) is the leader of a group that should be able to set up Rockville’s offense.

Others ready to play up front are senior Thomas Soltermann (5-10, 190), junior Avery Butler (5-10, 270), sophomores Brandon Davis (5-11, 260) and Justin Earl (5-9, 205) and freshman Connor Bettis (5-9, 260). “They’re definitely not small,” King said of that group.

Heading the list of Rockville’s skill-position players are junior quarterback Keiontre Wilkey (5-6, 140); junior running back Ben Cunningham (5-6, 165), already a three-year starter; and senior receiver Ryan Lewis (6-0, 175). Deciding who is fastest among that trio could be a never-ending battle. “Speed kills,” King says.

Other Rockville regulars include senior running back Alex Hill (5-8, 155); junior receivers Jake Bassett (5-10, 180) and Ben Eads (5-11, 165); senior fullback Tyler Knoblett (6-0, 215) and junior tight end Isaiah Thurman (6-4, 195). Sophomore Matt Wake (6-1, 165), the backup quarterback, also figures into the receiving corps, and senior strong safety Gavin Kent (6-0, 175) is another possibility at tight end.

“The defense [which includes many of the same players] has come along; they’re really understanding the concepts we’re teaching them,” King added.

Although many of the players will be going both ways, that doesn’t mean they’ll never come off the field either.

“We’ll be using four or five different backs, four different receivers, seven different linebackers, six different defensive linemen, five different defensive backs,” King noted.

The tough competition will be good for at least one team too, he added.

“Whoever advances from our sectional should go deep into the playoffs,” King predicted.

Rockville opens at home Friday against Seeger — another team that’s dropped down from Class 2A, but not to Sectional 47.

 

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