Coach:Pat Elder (ninth season, 64-28)
2013 record:5-5 overall, 3-3 BNC East (tie third place)
Fast fact:Richmond-Burton has advanced to the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons, with a 13-7 postseason record over that span.
• The Rockets will be looking to improve on a season in which they narrowly made the Class 4A playoffs before going out in the first round to top-seeded Evergreen Park. The team was hit particularly hard by injuries late in the season that impacted what it could do.
• If the Rockets make the playoffs for an eighth consecutive season, they will be doing so with a more inexperienced team. They return only two offensive starters and four defensive starters from last season. “We’ll be young, to say the least,” Elder said. “All you can do is try to improve and be better every day. Where we want to be is a long ways away, but we will keep working to get to that point.”
• R-B will be returning two of its three leading rushers from last season. Brad Boelkow and Luke Brinkmann, who will both be seniors this season, combined to run for 1,146 yards on 184 attempts, including 13 touchdowns. Boelkow, who also plays linebacker, should see the majority of the carries. Brinkmann is a speedy back who can also be dangerous as a receiver out of the backfield.
• The Rockets lost some of their important offensive players, including leading rusher Vince Battaglia and big offensive lineman Bryce Wagner. Expect Marshall Woodward, Tyler Talatian and Marcus Duha to take some of Battaglia’s snaps this season. Elder believes his young linemen will progress as the season goes on.
• The Rockets will have a new quarterback after Danny Rygiel graduated. R-B does not throw the ball often (Rygiel had only 47 pass attempts all last season), but it appears the role will come down to either junior Joey Horner or senior Codey Blanton. Elder is seeing how things go before making a final decision on the starter but said both have similar strengths.
• Last season, the Rockets struggled to finish drives in the red zone and struggled defensively at times. “We were a little disappointed in our defense last season. We have to give more effort and get better at execution to be successful,” Elder said.
Drill that stands out
Running backs timing drill. In the Wing-T offense, the backs are constantly in motion and with a new starting QB this year, timing will be a huge component. The drill had players in the formation working on both motion and ball-handling responsibilities that are crucial to the R-B offense.
Date Opponent Time
Aug. 29 Roosevelt 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 Stillman Valley 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 Harvard* 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 @ Marengo* 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 @ Johnsburg* 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 Rockford Christian* 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 @ Burlington Central* 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 @ North Boone* 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 Genoa-Kingston* 7 p.m.
* – BNC East Division game
– Kevin Meyer