Rockets are rolling: Spring Grove improves to 4-0 behind big night from Zyree Brooks
- Spring Grove rolled to a 60-14 win over Northeastern on Friday night.
- Spring Grove running back Zyree Brooks rushed for 224 yards and four touchdowns.
- The Rockets improved to 12-0 for the first time in at least a dozen years.
Zyree Brooks barely played into the third quarter, but that was more than enough time for him to have a huge night.
The Spring Grove senior running back exploded for 224 rushing yards and four touchdowns to lead the Rockets to a 60-14 win over Northeastern and a 4-0 start for the first time in at least 12 years, according to head coach Kyle Sprenkle.
Brooks pushed the praise onto his offensive line for its ability to open up room for him to run, but Sprenkle said the senior is a special player in his own right. The 5-foot, 7-inch, 170-pounder showed that in the second quarter when he scored all four of his touchdowns and completely flipped the game.
The Rockets' rusher broke touchdown runs of 65, 50, 35 and 6 yards.
When asked, he had a simple for answer for how he makes so many big plays for his team.
"Most teams put six or seven people in the box, so once you get past that first line there's no one left to stop you and it's kind of easy," Brooks said.
Bobcats strike first: Brooks definitely scored with ease against the Bobcats, but the game wasn't a blowout from the opening kickoff.
Coming off a big win over Northern York last week, Spring Grove walked into the stadium full of confidence, but the Rockets were quickly brought back down to Earth.
Northeastern scored first after Spring Grove struggled early with penalties. Quarterback Dalton Moyer connected with running back Zere'Quez Willams for a 42-yard touchdown, putting a scare into the Rockets.
"I think the first quarter for us was kind of a grounding moment to get our feet back on the ground," Sprenkle said. "(The players) were riding a little bit high, which give credit to Northeastern, they came out and attacked us right away. We made a couple mistakes on both sides of the ball that hurt us, but I think to give up that touchdown, it got the emotions going on the guys a little bit and they locked in from that point forward."
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Rockets break it open: Behind Brooks' big second quarter and a touchdown from his brother, senior running back/linebacker Tyree Brooks, the Rockets headed into the locker room up 34-7 after giving up the game's first points.
A couple of Northeastern turnovers became quick touchdowns for Spring Grove in the third quarter and allowed Sprenkle to pull his starters and head into next week's showdown with York High as healthy as they can be.
Spring Grove winning without regular QB: Perhaps most impressively, the Rockets' 4-0 start has come without their standout starting quarterback.
Junior Andrew Osmun suffered an injury during Spring Grove's first game and Sprenkle said he is week-to-week at this point, but he is expected to return at some point this season.
Without Osmun in the lineup, Zyree Brooks' big games have been even more important for the Rockets. In their previous game, the senior rushed for 214 yards and scored three touchdowns in a blowout win vs. Northern York.
Sophomore QB excels: Sprenkle said the Brooks' brothers, the team's offensive line and other skill players have stepped up to take the pressure of sophomore quarterback Cowan Ruhland. Against Northeastern, Sprenkle let the sophomore sling the ball around a little more than in past games and he impressed.
Ruhland was 8 for 11 for 199 yards and two touchdowns, including a 27-yard strike to senior wide receiver Justin Goodman in the corner of the end zone over a defender on fourth down.
"We've been kind of easing him in there," Sprenkle said. "We're not trying to put too much pressure on him. We're definitely confident in his abilities. Obviously, he has a great arm and I think he showcased that tonight with some of the passes, but we don't have to put all the pressure on him to be able to throw the ball every play. We've got a good stable of running backs and we can mix it up."
Coach has praise for his Rockets: The Spring Grove seniors, such as Zyree Brooks and linebacker Darien Osmun, have spent years practicing each week just to end up on the losing end of some blowout losses.
Now, it's the Rockets who are sitting their starters late in games because they've already won easily and Sprenkle expressed pride when he reflected on the effort the team has put in over the years.
"I love my players to death. I love this team," Sprenkle said. "I've been on both sides of winning and losing and I'd much rather prefer this side. It's a lot more fun, but I will always give the credit to the kids. They're well deserving of it."
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.