Prep football: Pearson, Rockets steamroll Vikings

RAPID RIVER – Jake Pearson found the seam, danced around a couple defenders, juked past another, threw one would-be tackler off him like he was taking off a jacket and then dashed 73 yards into the end zone.

And that was just one of his five touchdowns in the first half Thursday night.

Pearson and the Rapid River Rockets erupted on offense, withstood an early onslaught from Posen and rolled to a 64-26 victory.

The Rockets’ quarterback had 247 first half rushing yards. The over under on how many Posen defenders it would take to bring him down was about three. He finished with 295 rushing yards and four touchdowns, and added 26 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception before sitting for the fourth quarter.

Posen coach Wayne Karsten has seen plenty of Pearson over the past three years and was glad this may be the last time he has to defend him.

“He’s one of the best players in the state of Michigan. There’s no doubt in my mind,’ he said. “I’ve seen him for three years. I’ll come to his graduation, just to make sure he graduates. I don’t know him personally, but he seems like a good kid.”

Posen (0-2) kept it close early. They scored on the second play from scrimmage on a 71 yard quarterback keeper. Brandon Dietz faked the handoff, the Rockets bit, and Dietz was off, going untouched into the end zone.

Rapid River answered on its first drive. Pearson carried on five of the seven plays, finishing with a 34-yard touchdown. On Rapid River’s next drive, fullback Lucas Bero and Pearson drove right back down, Pearson scoring from 21 yards out this time.

Rockets center Hayden Hardwick appreciated Pearson’s performance as much as anyone, helping to pave the initial path on his multiple big runs.

“Jake is great. He’s a stud. He makes us look pretty good,” he said. “We do our best and he does his best and that’s why we’re a team.”

Of the Rockets’ offensive scheme, Hardwick said, “It’s great. It’s zone blocking. Whoever shows (blitz) is who we block, there’s no set person you’re blocking. The Green Bay Packers do the same with zone options.”

Rockets coach Steve Ostrenga pointed to the work of the offensive line as well.

“The seniors are a special group. Jake and Hayden have been paired up for three years. Hayden, Mike Boyer, Steve Johnson, Jared Schwartz, Bobby Brodock and George Kanyuh, our line does a nice job. And once Jake gets that seam, he’s shifty in the field,” he said. “They took some things away from us tonight and Jake still found a way to get things done.”

Pearson’s last touchdown came with mere seconds left on the clock in the first half. On seemingly a throwaway play, Pearson dodged at least five defenders on a 46 yard touchdown run with zeros on the clock when he crossed the goal line.

“Coach Paul Brunngraeber told the team, if you get tackled call a timeout, but he told Jake, just score, so he did. That’s determination on his part,” said Ostrenga.

The Vikings did what they could defensively and tried to keep up offensively with some nice plays of their own.

Posen came within 14-14 just before the second quarter on a fortunate play. Dietz threw a pass but running back Travis Sharpe, who was not the intended receiver, tipped the ball, bobbled it a few times in the midst of Rockets defenders, eventually came down with it and then took off 75 yards to score as the shocked Rockets looked on.

“We practice it that way,” joked Karsten. “We threw a little power pass to the fullback and somehow, somebody got in the wrong spot, tipped it up and he managed to grab ahold of it and away we were.

“Sometimes in football, you have to take advantage of those breaks when they happen. You make your own luck.”

Posen however, didn’t have enough luck. Things got worse in the second half when starting tailback Nick Hincka, who nearly engineered an upset of Cedarville last week, went down with an apparent ankle injury. The game was halted over 15 minutes in the fourth quarter to tend to him.

“I’m hoping it was a sprain,” said Karsten. “He wears ankle braces on both ankles so I’m hoping that helped prevent anything. I know he was in some serious pain.

“He is our heart and soul. Last week he ran for 320 yards against Cedarville and he ran for 1,700 yards last season.”

The Rockets had some injury problems as well, losing Bero and Johnson to minor injuries.

“We had to step up,” said Ostrenga. “With 14 guys, sometimes it’s survival of the fittest. It’s who’s left standing at the end. We made it through.

“Posen is a great football team and they gave us some problems.”

The Rapid River jayvees defeated the Gladstone freshmen 26-25.

Rapid River (2-0) is tentatively scheduled to host Engadine on September 13.