In their Week 3 loss to North Boone, the Rock Falls Rockets consistently found themselves in Vikings territory.
The first drive of the game saw the Rockets reach the North Boone 36 before being turned back. Later in the first half, the Rockets mounted a 59-yard drive which reached as far as the Vikings’ 7, but no further. Thanks to a long Alan Carter kick return, the Rockets had one drive start at the North Boone 45, another started at the Rock Falls 47 and reached the Vikings’ 17. Thanks to an interception, the Rockets opened one drive at the North Boone 21.
But none of those drives produced points. Rock Falls snapped the ball 27 times on North Boone’s side of the field, but never found the end zone in a 35-0 loss.
For the Rockets in Week 4 against Mendota, the next step is turning those promising drives into scoring drives.
“That’s what, for programs like ours that are trying to find our way, it takes time for that,” Rock Falls coach Kevin Parker said. “Before, when you’re a program trying to build, the ball doesn’t bounce your way, you don’t get the breaks on the calls, that’s just the way it is. That’s the way the football gods do it.”
Before the shutout loss to North Boone, there was a 47-7 loss to Genoa-Kingston which saw one extended drive end in a Dillon Schueler 16-yard touchdown reception.
“We’ve just got to keep going,” Parker said. “We had one good drive, one pretty dominating drive, against G-K, and then the rest of the game we struggled. We had a couple here [against North Boone] and, if that’s progress I’m not sure, but we’ve got to find a way to do that every single week.”
In preparation for the game against Mendota, it’s back to the basics for the Rockets.
The Trojans come into the game themselves looking to bounce back, having lost to North Boone to open the season before a 30-26 loss to Oregon Week 3.
“They’ll move in and out of some things,” Parker said. “We’ve seen formations where they cover the center and the guards.”
In Mendota’s offense, Rock Falls will see more of the passing game they saw from North Boone. Vikings quarterback Logan Emanuel threw for 269 yards and three touchdowns, rushing for another, against the Rockets in Week 3. Mendota’s Ted Landgraf threw for a pair of touchdowns, ran for another, and caught a touchdown in the loss to Oregon.
“They’ll throw the football, but they try to be physical and play smash-mouth football too,” Parker said. “They pull the backside guard and tackle and try to run right over you as well.”
Mendota won the Week 8 meeting between the two teams in 2019 on a late touchdown, but it was big plays that helped the Trojans stay in the game prior to the final scoring drive. Landgraf had a 53-yard run to set up one touchdown, and threw touchdown passes of 45 and 20 yards.
“Last year they connected on a couple of big plays, a couple of things happen and the breaks didn’t go our way,” Parker said. “It’s capable. It’s not North Boone, but it is capable.”