Since starting up their varsity football program in 2000, Anna has taken steps each year to become one of the stronger
programs in Division V. The Rockets continued their climb in 2009 with
another strong season in which they proved they could compete with the
top programs in the rugged Midwest Athletic Conference. Now what?
2009 record: 9-3
* Players To Watch – TE/LB Alex Fogt (6-2, 235, sr.), FB/DE Cody Bensman (6-0, 220, sr.), S/RB Dexter Bensman (5-9, 160, sr.), RB Cole Furgason (5-11, 185, jr.), DL/OL Maverick Long (6-1, 220, jr.), RB/CB Danny Stewart (6-1, 185, sr.)
* Outlook – Since starting up their varsity football program in 2000, the Anna Rockets have taken steps each year to become one of the stronger programs in Division V. The Rockets continued their climb in 2009 with another strong season in which they proved they could compete with the top programs in the rugged Midwest Athletic Conference.
“I thought it went really well,” head coach Bryan Rioch said. “We were really competitive. We obviously play in a pretty competitive league. We had some real nice skill athletes that we were able to take advantage of some mismatches on the field. We were one play away from the regional finals – a loss to Coldwater in overtime. Obviously we were disappointed; nobody likes to lose, but I was real happy with our effort all year long. The kids played hard, and we played about as well as we could play towards the end of the year.
“I think every year we’ve made strides and gotten better. That doesn’t always necessarily translate into wins and losses, but every year we’ve always done something that we haven’t done before that’s kind of pushed the program to kind of achieve the next level, whether it be getting into the playoffs, or winning a playoff game, or stepping into the MAC and being able compete week in and week out, up to the last two years where we’re competing for league championships. We’ve made strides in the right direction every year, and obviously that’s going to be our goal this year as well.”
The Rockets will once again be expected to be among the top teams in the MAC this year, even though they will have some big shoes to fill on offense.
“We’ve got some good young talent coming; we’ve just got a lot of question marks at the skill positions,” Rioch said. “At quarterback, we’re having to replace a three-year starter and a guy that owned every statistical record at quarterback in Wes Hunsucker. We’re going to have to do the same thing at wideout with Derek Billing, who had 75 catches last year. We’re going to have to find kids to replace him and then Cameron Knight, who was a 1,000-yard running back last year.
“So offensively, a lot of our go-to guys or skill guys we’re going to have to replace. I think we’ve got guys that can do it, it’s just going to be a question of who, and if we’re going to have to do it by committee or if one individual is going to step up and do it.”
Six starters return on offense for Anna, with five on defense. Better yet, the overall depth of the team is looking solid as many players were able to gain experience in lopsided wins last season.
“I think our depth is going to be good,” Rioch said. “We’re looking at probably 30 kids that could potentially have varsity playing time. We feel like this is arguably one of our faster and stronger teams. From an on-the-field perspective, we think up front we’re going to be good on the offensive line.
“We had a lot of kids get experience. Now we graduated some pretty good skill players – arguably the best we’ve ever had – so we’ve got our work cut out for us as far as that goes. But a lot of kids got to play; a lot of kids got to see some valuable playing time in games that maybe got out of hand.”
The Rockets will have a lot on their plate in 2010, but all indications are that the team is ready for a full-course meal.
“Our kids are hungry,” Rioch said. “We’ve got a bad taste in our mouth losing to Coldwater in overtime like that, so we’ve had a really good offseason.”
* Schedule – The Rockets face a loaded schedule in 2010 that very few teams in Division V can match, starting out with two playoff teams before heading into the MAC slate.
“We open up with (Sidney Lehman Catholic); they feel like this is their best chance to have their best team,” Rioch said. “Then we play Sherwood Fairview, who’s 8-2, 9-1 every year in their league. Then we get into the meat grinder. Our league schedule starts with (Coldwater, Delphos St. John’s, and Marion Local), and then I think we’ve got the Browns and Buckeyes somewhere in there too.
“It’s unbelievable, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s competitive every week, it’s a playoff atmosphere every week. As rugged as it is, it’s a lot of fun.”
8/27 at Sidney Lehman Catholic
9/3 Sherwood Fairview
9/18 at Delphos St. John’s
9/24 Maria Stein Marion Local
10/1 at New Bremen
10/8 Fort Recovery
10/15 at St. Henry
10/29 at Rockford Parkway