It’s been a little over two years since the James Buchanan Rocket football team has had a mark in the win column.
Friday night JB has high hopes of breaking its 21-game losing streak and kick the 2017 season off on a high note.
The Rockets host the Big Spring Bulldogs in their non-league season-opener at 7 p.m.
“The guys and coaching staff are excited for the season,” JB coach Andy Stoner said. “The players have been working hard in the off season.”
Offensively the Rockets will be led by quarterback Sebastian Wise, running backs Cormac Houpt, Owen Stoner and Caden Ficks. Key lineman for JB will be guards Jackson Ellis and Sean Bankson.
“In our scrimmage last week (vs. Boiling Springs) we moved the ball at times and had some nice plays,” Andy Stoner said.
Big Spring finished 6-4 last season and have beaten the Rockets two straight seasons – 59-14 last year and 32-6 in 2015.
The Bulldogs return workhorse running back Ryan Adams, who rushed for 1,392 yards last season and has 2,067 for his career.
“We can’t give him a crease,” Andy Stoner said. “We have to maintain our gaps and make him go side to side.”
Along with trying to slow Adams, the Rockets’ 6-2 defense, led by defensive back/linebacker Sawyer Egolf, will have to deal with Big Spring’s lanky receiving corps of Peyton Bechtold (6-foot-4) and Gavin Pritchard (6-6).
“Their wide receivers will be a challenge for us,” Andy Stoner said. “The one thing we really need is our our defense to attack better, especially our outside backers. The guys returning are a year matured and have been working on what needs to be done to play Friday nights.”
Also, Friday night will be the first of nine non-league games for JB, which decided to leave the Mid Penn Conference in football. It was a tough decision, but one that should help improve the program.
“The guys haven’t even talked about not being in a league,” Andy Stoner. “They’re excited about all the new teams they will get to play.”
The Rockets remaining schedule is: Sept. 8 home vs. Fairfield, Sept. 15 at Camp Hill, Sept. 29 at Clear Spring, Md., Oct. 6 home vs. Frederick, Md., Oct. 13 at West Perry, Oct. 20 at Smithsburg, Md. and Oct. 27 at Brunswick, Md.