Rockets set the tone, blast Cougars on homecoming

RAPID RIVER – The memory of last year’s homecoming loss to Cedarville was fresh on the minds of the Rapid River Rockets as they hosted Superior Central on Friday.

“Last years homecoming we lost 72-12, so this year we talked about not taking anybody lightly,” said Rockets head coach Steve Ostrenga. “You’ve got to come in and play your best football and it’s a tribute to our seniors.”

The Rockets did just that, scoring all 42 of their points in the first half en-route to a 42-0 homecoming win.

“We started our five seniors and that was nice to see that they got to be on the field together and had some early success that set the tone for the rest of the night,” Ostrenga said.

Rapid River didn’t waste anytime getting on the board, taking only five plays and two minutes to punch the first score in.

Senior quarterback Jake Pearson bolted up the right side line for a 45-yard gain, setting up junior running back David Hough’s five-yard touchdown.

The Rockets missed the two-point conversion attempt but didn’t have to wait long to get the ball back as Mike Casey intercepted Superior Central’s Dayne Nelson on the Cougars first play from scrimmage.

One play later, Pearson dashed in the endzone from eight yards out and also converted the two-point conversion to give the Rockets a 14-0 lead with 8:53 left in the first quarter.

The Rockets defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession. Three plays later, Pearson found Casey for a 44-yard reception that put Rapid River at the Superior Central one-yard line.

“Jake threw the ball pretty well tonight,” Ostrenga said. “We didn’t call a lot of passing plays but they gave us a few openings and we called them. Mike Casey made a heck of a catch down by the goal-line, just a phenomenal catch, that was beautiful.”

One play later, senior Pat Pryal punched in the first of his three touchdowns for a 20-0 Rockets lead.

“I thought our offensive line did a great job of blocking. They always do a great job,” Pryal said.

The Rockets completed the two-point conversion on a pass from Pearson to Josh Parrett.

Superior Central got the chains moving on the next possession as Josh Herndon broke off a 42-yard run. Head coach Chris Messano said despite the loss his team showed positive signs.

“We didn’t really expect to be able to hang with Rapid River so we were looking for some of those smaller victories and we were really proud of our kids,” Messano said. “They didn’t hang their heads when the score got up there and they fought to the end. We did some really good things.”

The Rockets forced a turnover-on-downs and scored again with 1:03 left in the first quarter on a 27-yard run from Pryal.

Ostrenga said it was nice to have a more balanced running attack, a week after Pearson had 39 carries.

“We knew they were going to blitz,” he said. “We felt that they were going to come hard at us. I wanted to spread it out. I didn’t just want to run Jake. We wanted him to get his touches, we wanted everyone to get their touches and fortunately we had some big plays.”

Pryal found the endzone one more time in the half and Pearson was able to hand the quarterback duties off to jayvee starter Mason Berglund.

Berglund, who played the majority of the second half, scored the Rockets final touchdown on a five-yard sweep to the left, with 2:22 left in the first half.

“He gets as many reps as we can give him,” Ostregna said. “Obvsiouly Pearson is our leader back there and when we get a chance Mason is an up and coming quarterback and he does a nice job back there.”

Pearson lead the Rockets with 118 yards on nine carries and a touchdown. He was also 3-of-6 for 80 yards passing, while sitting the majority of the second half. Pryal finished with 58 yards on five carries for three touchdowns.

“I like that we’re like a big family, we all come together and we’re all great friends,” Pryal said. “We all play with a lot of heart. I’m really proud of these guys, they all stick together even when times are tough.”

The Cougars were lead by Josh Herndon, who had 63 yards on two carries. Elijah Pasanen had nine carries for 32 yards and Dayne Nelson carried seven times for 22 yards.