By Angela Yado
Schoolcraft Rocket Football is off to a great start to its 2013 season, with a group of veteran coaches backed up by many years of football experience. The players are learning the fundamentals of not only football, but teamwork and good sportsmanship as well.
Involved with the Rocket program since 2004, Coach Benny Clark Jr. (and current president of Schoolcraft Rocket Football) says the program has always been about the kids and the community.
“We’ve been fortunate to have such a fantastic group of parents who volunteer so much time each week to keep this program running so well. The players learn from the start what it means to part of the Schoolcraft football tradition.”
New to the Rocket program this year is a Flag Football League, where kids age 5-7 can start at an even earlier age to learn the fundamentals of the game. With nearly 50 kids signed up, there is no sign of the program slowing down. The two Lower Teams (ages 8-9) are both off to an undefeated start after three games.
The Lower Gold Team has had an outstanding year so far. Coached by Sean McDonald and assisted by Mike Sampsell, Sean Hamlin, and Will Engel, the players have done a phenomenal job of working together as a team.
With 15 players on the roster most players are getting a chance to play positions on both offense and defense.
The players include veterans Asher Puhalski, Trey Schneider, Grayson Pratt, Kanaan Burgess, Rickey Peters, Ian McDonald, Ryan Engel, and Dylan Hamlin. Also on the roster are the athletic first-year players Caleb Goldschmeding, Gavin Beuter, Brian Crofoot, Malachi Sampley, Aidan Powers, Shaun Sampsell, and Drew Hamlin. According to Coach McDonald, “The team has worked well together offensively to create passing and running plays. The team’s strong suit, however, is their defense that has only allowed two touchdowns all season. I am honored to be able to coach this group of kids and teach them the fundamentals of football. I love to see them enthusiastic, having fun and supporting each other as a team.”
The Lower Purple Team has had a fantastic start as well. Head Coach Chris Webb has volunteered much of his time over the years coaching all three of his boys in the Rocket program. His team this year is also undefeated to start the season. “I want to congratulate all the boys for their effort and hard work,” says Webb.
“They have done an incredible job exemplifying what it means to be a Rocket Football player by keeping a good attitude at all times, encouraging their teammates and having as much fun as possible.” A mix of veteran and first-year players, their energetic roster is made up of Carson Flynn, Drew Webb, Andrew Taylor, Tanner Smith, Hunter Martens, Logan Meyer, Hayden Gunter, Carter Graber, Jacob Sootsman, Noah Graber, Ethan Feller, Nolan Devries, Canaan Pavey, Nolan Strake, and Logan Simpson. Coach Webb also says, “Coach Graber, Coach Martens, Coach Feller, and I are grateful for all the support the parents have given us. This season has been special thus far being 3-0, but we still have four games left! Our goal as coaches is to make sure the kids are having as much fun as possible and that the kids are being taught to win while developing closer relationships with their teammates, which is what it’s all about. Congratulations to all the Schoolcraft Rocket Teams for their hard work this season.”
The Upper Gold Team coached by the “Three Mike’s” Head Coach Mike Straley, Mike Olvitt, and Mike Nadrasik, is also off to a strong start this season. The Upper Gold’s rugged, hard-hitting defense is focused around the crushing tackles of Caden Sukich and the strong defensive plays of Jacob Straley, Justin Speakman, Kyle Fleck, Aiden Hursey, Karson Leighton, Damon Nadrasik, Jake Olvitt and Stephen Phelps. On offense, their smash-mouth running game featuring the strong arm of quarterback Jared Widup, Jacob Troyer, Adam Martin, Jared Jager, speedster Trent Cook, Dawson Shearer, Mason Hart, Peyton Fisher, Cam VanZile, Mitchell Simonds, and Brett Faulk have fought hard all season on every down played to get the ball to the end zone. Coached by Benny Clark Jr., Kevin Briggs, Terry Smith, Matt Abel, Tino Yado, and Gary Davis, the Upper Purple Team is also undefeated so far this season and has proven it is a force to be reckoned with! Only giving up three touchdowns in three games, the defense is led by hard hitting Marky Fox and the fierce Jack Fowler.
Also keeping the opponents from the end zone are Brandon Meyer, Connor Webb, Johnny Abel, Hunter White, Caleb Niewiadomski, Carter Briggs, Harmon Devries, and Bryce Vanderwiere. Watch out for the punishing tackles of Adrienne Rosey as well. The first female to play for Schoolcraft Rocket football, she’s proven she belongs on the football field.
Offensively, the team has been unstoppable, putting 110 points on the scoreboard to start the season! Protected by a strong offensive line including Asa Pavey, Garren Phillips, Carl Taylor, Hunter Bogema, Donnie Cochran, and Fowler at center, the fourth year QB Terry Smith III is well protected when handing the ball off to lightning fast Kobe Clark or the sure-thing receiver Vinny Yado. According to Coach Clark, “This is a special team. They play well together and work hard every game. Purple and Gold runs through their veins, and they play with pride every time they walk on that field. I’m proud of each and every one of them.”