JB Rocket football opens 2020 season at Big Spring

Finally, let the high school football season begin.

Those sentiments can be felt all over Franklin County, but maybe a little more so for the new-look James Buchanan Rockets, who begin their season Friday.

The Rockets, who finished 2-7 a year ago, open the 2020 season at Big Spring in a non-league game with a 7 p.m. kickoff.

JB will have a “new look” not only because it will be sporting new unis, but it will also be Cliff Pine’s first game as the Rockets’ new head coach.

Pine, a JB graduate and former Rocket football player himself, said with all things considered, the team has been very receptive to having its third new coach in the last four years.

“With COVID it most certainly has been challenging (practices), but it’s been challenging for everyone,” Pine said. “All in all, all of this has brought us together as a team. I’ve known most of the athletes for quite a while, but myself and our staff implemented a new offense and defense. All the athletes have been good with all the changes and new things we’re showing them.”

Offensively, the Rockets will move away from the spread package they’ve run the last two years and will turn to the Wing-T this season.

JB returns seven players on the offensive side, but only two to the same position they played last year.

Junior CJ Gerhart, who played a few games at quarterback last season, returns as the full-time starter. The backs behind Gerhart will be senior fullback Caden Stoner (played wide receiver last year), senior halfback Mason Line (WR last year) and senior wing back Grant Ellis (WR last year).

At tight end will be senior Logan Miller (RB last year) and sophomore John Stoner will be the starting wide receiver.

Blocking up front will be Pine’s son, sophomore center Camron Pine, senior guards Caleb Wise and Hunter Smith (RB last year) and both tackles will be first-year starters, senior Hayden Russell and freshman Aden Stultz.

“We’ve moved some athletes around from where they’ve played in the past,” Cliff Pine said. “We just want to have the 11 best athletes out there where we think they fit the best.”

Defensively, the Rockets will start the season in a 4-2 scheme.
Across the defensive front will be seniors Jacob Tyler and Trey Setting; anchoring the ends will be Stultz and Russell. The linebacking corps will be led by Wise and Smith in the inside and Ellis and Miller on the outside. Caden Stoner, John Stoner and Mason Line will start in the secondary.
Despite not having a scrimmage, which a majority of teams got last weekend, including Big Spring, coach Pine is confident the Rockets will be ready.
“All the players are excited for the season,” Pine said. “We would’ve liked to have gotten a scrimmage in, but the players have been putting the work in with a lot of high energy.”
And unlike the past three seasons, in which JB played an independent schedule, the Rockets are back in a football conference — the Mid Penn Conference. JB will be part of the newly-formed Liberty Division along with Newport, Susquenita, Juniata, Line Mountain, Halifax and Upper Dauphin, all of which came from the now-defunct Tri-Valley League.
“It’s good to be back in the Mid Penn,” Pine said. “I like the division we are in. A lot of the schools are similar size to us. I think we’ll fit in real well.”
Friday’s game at Big Spring will be live streamed at: No visiting team spectators will be allowed into the game. Tickets will not be sold at the gate to anyone who does not have a voucher.
NOTES: The Rockets’ remaining schedule will be Oct. 9 at Newport; Oct. 16 at home vs. Susquenita; Oct. 23 at Juniata and Oct. 30 at home vs. Line Mountain.

Categories: Football, James Buchanan