COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: Spring Grove Rockets
- Spring Grove went 5-6 last year, going 4-3 in Y-A League Division I play.
- The Rockets lost in the first round of the District 3-AAA playoffs to Manheim Central.
- Jake Messersmith returns as quarterback for his third straight season.
This is the 19th installment of our daily preview capsules leading up to the start of the York-Adams League high school football season on Friday, Sept. 2.
Who: Spring Grove Rockets.
2015 record: 5-6 overall, 4-3 York-Adams Division I.
Coach: Kyle Sprenkle, second season.
Key returners (Division I All-Stars in bold): Jake Messersmith, senior, quarterback; Owen Jacobs, senior, offensive and defensive tackle; Ryan Daugherty, senior, running back/linebacker; Brady Stein, senior, wide receiver; Nathan Young, senior, offensive and defensive lineman; Wyatt Becker, senior, offensive and defensive lineman; Theo Johnson, senior, running back/cornerback; Anthony Beddia, senior, wide receiver/cornerback; Ronnie Lawson, senior, linebacker; Connor Reed, junior, wide receiver/safety.
Notable losses (Division I All-Stars in bold): Andrew Lawson, senior, offensive and defensive tackle; Andrew Luckenbaugh, senior, kicker/punter; Nick Erickson, senior, running back; Ian Slaven, senior, defensive back; Adam Warehime, senior, wide receiver; L.J. Chisholm, senior, wide receiver; Tylor Wood, senior, offensive and defensive lineman; James Stanley, offensive and defensive lineman; Justin Sneeringer, senior, offensive and defensive lineman; Thomas Smiley, senior, linebacker; Josh Cribbs, senior, linebacker; Connor Hildebrand, senior, linebacker.
2016 schedule (Division I games in bold): Sept. 2 vs. Hershey (7 p.m.); Sept. 9 at Mechanicsburg (7 p.m.); Sept. 16 vs. Garden Spot (7 p.m.); Sept. 23 vs. Dallastown (7 p.m.); Sept. 30 at New Oxford (7 p.m.); Oct. 7 at York High (7 p.m.); Oct. 14 vs. Central York (7 p.m.); Oct. 21 at Northeastern (7 p.m.); Oct. 28 vs. Red Lion (7 p.m.); Nov. 4 at South Western (7 p.m.)
Outlook: Spring Grove finished strong to clinch a playoff spot in the District 3-AAA tournament last year in Sprenkle’s first season. He was blessed with a team of experienced seniors and juniors ready to step up, so that allows him the benefit of having another veteran senior class for 2016. While the postseason game against Manheim Central didn’t go well for the Rockets, it was a valuable experience, one that could help them potentially take that next step this year and work toward a winning record.
However, with more classes, but fewer playoff teams, a repeat postseason performance by Spring Grove in 2016 might not be in the cards. Still, it should be competitive within the division, especially with Messersmith back as the starting quarterback for a third season.
Getting off to a good start is crucial for the Rockets. Last year, they needed to go 4-2 down the stretch to make up for a 1-3 start. This year, Spring Grove opens with three home games in the first four weeks, so the opportunity presents itself for a better start.
Coach speak: “That (last season's strong finish) was a huge momentum builder for us and good stepping stone into this season. It’s something that we’re hoping to build off of, and with so many guys back that were part of last year’s season, they know what that feels like and they’re anxious to get back to that type of feeling throughout the season.” — Sprenkle.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com