COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: After 1-9 season, talented sophomore class gives Spring Grove hope

  • The Spring Grove Rockets are coming off a 1-9 football season in 2018.
  • The Rockets' 2019 sophomore class went unbeaten on the freshman level last season.
  • Senior Matt Jarvis is expected to be Spring Grove's starting quarterback.
Kyle Sprenkle, Spring Grove
Football Media Day, Thursday August 1, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Editor's note: This is one in a continuing series of team previews for the 2019 York-Adams League football season:

Coach Kyle Sprenkle didn’t mince words when talking about the performance of his Spring Grove football team in 2018.

“We’re too good to be 1-9,” Sprenkle said. “... 1-9 is simply not good enough.”

Optimism, thanks largely to the talent, depth and success of the rising sophomore class, appears to be high for Sprenkle and his crew.

“The sophomore class ... there’s a lot of talent there,” Rockets senior Briar Foltz said. “So I think that overall we’ll have a good season and that they’ll help us out a lot.”

That sophomore contingent finished ninth-grade play with an unbeaten record. Still, even with 20-plus players from that team mainly being elevated to the varsity squad, there’s a bit of caution in Sprenkle’s voice when talking about the youngsters.

“They’ve had a lot of success from youth football all the way up to our freshman team, which was unbeaten,” Sprenkle said. “So there’s a lot of confidence there, but there’s a big difference between freshman football to playing on Friday nights.”

With last year’s starting quarterback, Nick Shaqfeh, now departed after graduation, the Rockets will likely turn the reins over to senior Matt Jarvis this season. Jarvis, however, will find some competition in camp from a couple of underclassmen, a fact that makes Sprenkle more than a little pleased.

“Last year we didn’t have that same level of competition for starting spots,” he said. “So we had some guys that were getting spots by default just because there was nobody else to take that position. This year I think all of the guys are going to find out that you’re going to have to work and going to have to continue to work and get better because there’s a guy behind you that’s ready to take your job.”

While last year’s record was disappointing, the Rockets can hang their hats on the fact that they played well early in most contests.

“This season, it’s all about finishing,” senior lineman Nolan Gise said. “Almost every game last year we were in it at the half.”

Following is a capsule preview of the 2019 Spring Grove season.

Team: Spring Grove Rockets.

Coach: Kyle Sprenkle, fifth season.

2018 record: 1-9 overall, 0-7 in York-Adams Division I.

Key losses (Division I All-Stars in bold): Nick Shaqfeh, quarterback; Braden Brandt, running back/defensive back; Eric Glass, running back/linebacker; Logan Schaeffer, wide receiver/linebacker; Riley Merrill, offensive/defensive lineman.

Key returners (Division I All-Stars in bold): Briar Foltz, senior, running back/defensive back; Nolan Gise, senior, offensive/defensive lineman; Matt Jarvis, senior, quarterback; Jonah Warehime, junior, wide receiver/defensive back; Daniel Simpson, senior, kicker/punter.

2019 schedule (Division I games in bold): Aug. 23 at Lampeter-Strasburg; Aug. 30 at Muhlenberg; Sept. 6 vs. Conestoga Valley; Sept. 13 vs. Northeastern; Sept. 20 at York High; Sept. 27 vs. New Oxford; Oct. 4 vs. Central York; Oct. 11 at Dallastown; Oct. 18 vs. Red Lion; Oct. 25 at South Western.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at