COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: Spring Grove Rockets football preview

Countdown to kickoff

This is the 17th installment of our daily preview capsules leading up to the start of the York-Adams League high school football season on Sept. 4.

Who: Spring Grove Rockets.

2014 record: 3-7 overall, 1-5 Division I.

Coach: Kyle Sprenkle, first year.

Key returners: Owen Jacobs, junior, tight end; Andrew Lawson, senior, offensive guard/defensive end; Andrew Luckenbaugh, senior, kicker; Ian Slaven, senior, defensive back; Nick Erickson, senior, linebacker.

Notable losses: Logan Hall, wide receiver; Ziba Topper, center; Zack Stauffer, inside linebacker; Shay Fuelmer, running back.

2014 All-Stars: Jacobs, tight end; Lawson, offensive guard/defensive end; Luckenbaugh, kicker; Slaven, defensive back; Erickson, linebacker; Hall, wide receiver; Topper, center; Stauffer, inside linebacker.

2015 schedule: Sept. 4, vs. Cumberland Valley (7 p.m.); Sept. 11, at Mechanicsburg (7 p.m.); Sept. 18, at York Suburban (7 p.m.); Sept. 25, at Dallastown (7 p.m.); Oct. 2, vs. New Oxford (7 p.m.); Oct. 9, vs. York High (7 p.m.); Oct. 16, at Central York (7 p.m.); Oct. 23, vs. Northeastern (7 p.m.); Oct. 30, at Red Lion (7 p.m.); Nov. 6, vs. South Western (7 p.m.).

Outlook: Spring Grove was much better in 2014 than its 3-7 record might indicate. The Rockets were ravaged by injuries that cost them five straight losses to end the season after beginning the year 3-2.

Unfortunately, 2015 might be much of the same for Spring Grove, but this time, rather than injuries holding the team back, it could be a tough schedule. The Rockets begin the season with District 3-AAAA power Cumberland Valley making a return trip to Spring Grove this year. Despite only losing by four on the road to the Eagles to open last season, it will still force the Rockets to be ready to go right off the bat this year.

Following the opening home game, Spring Grove will then hit the road for three straight away games before coming back home for back-to-back home contests in Weeks 5 and 6. If the Rockets want to make the postseason this year, they'll need to do most of their winning between Weeks 5 and 9. Awaiting Spring Grove in the final week of the regular season is a home contest against Division I favorite South Western, which won't be an easy win to come by if its necessary to make the playoffs.

Also, the Rockets are welcoming in new head coach Kyle Sprenkle, who's replacing Russ Stoner at the helm. Sprenkle, a 2004 graduate from Spring Grove, has experience with the Rockets' program, coming back as an assistant in 2008 after graduating college. Between his prior history at the school and 18 starters returning from 2014, it should be an easy transition from Stoner to Sprenkle, meaning Spring Grove should, if nothing else, be competitive.

Coach speak: "It's definitely a great welcoming game for a head coach. Looking back, it's probably not a game I'd want to start the season with, but I'm excited for it and I know the kids are excited for it. We're going to prepare just as normally for that game as we would for any other game." — Sprenkle, talking about beginning the season against powerhouse Cumberland Valley.

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at