ROCK FALLS – The Rock Falls Rockets enter Week 3 against Winnebago hoping that the third game will be more like the first, and less like the second.
Rock Falls opened the season with a 50-0 win over Rockford Christian, but fell to 1-1 for the season after losing to Stillman Valley last week.
Even though the Rockets come in off a loss, there are still things from Week 2 to build on.
“I think we found a lot of things that we liked, but unfortunately when you’re playing Stillman Valley and you want to be successful, you can’t have one mistake on a play,” Rock Falls coach Kevin Parker said. “We had a lot of good things, and then a glaring mistake on a lot of stuff. We moved the ball, then turned the ball over. We saw some positive things, but what we’re trying to drive home is that every little piece can turn into a big mistake. When you’re playing not just Stillman but any team in this conference, we don’t have that ability to have a couple bad plays.”
In facing Winnebago in Week 3, Parker is expecting a physical game.
“Are we going to be able to match their physicality, that’s the question,” he said. “They ran the gauntlet in the first two weeks. I’ve been there before, understand what that feels like to play two of the best teams in the state and get beat up. They’re going to be ready to go, kind of like Stillman when they lost the week before, we knew we were going to get their best game.”
Winnebago comes in 0-2, having been outscored 67-16 in its first two games, but those first two games were tough ones. The Indians opened the season with a loss to Genoa-Kingston, then fell to Byron last week. Byron is ranked No. 7 in the state in Class 3A in the latest AP poll, while GK is No. 6 in Class 4A.
Parker has been in that situation before. His first year with the Rockets, 2019, saw Rock Falls open the season against four straight teams who ultimately reached the playoffs: Genoa-Kingston, Dixon, Stillman Valley and Byron. Rock Falls went 1-3 in those games.
Rock Falls might be without one of its top rushing threats. Running back Dillon Schueler was injured in the Week 1 win over Rockford Christian. He tried to make a go of it Week 2 at Stillman Valley, but by halftime realized it wasn’t going to work.
“I am [optimistic],” he said. “I just want to keep playing. It’s my last year of football, I sure hope I can get back out there and play again, but if the doctor says I can’t play, I can’t play.”
The Rockets face a Winnebago defense which saw Byron jump out to an early lead in Week 2 but shut the Cogs out in the first quarter of their Week 1 game.
“We haven’t seen a whole lot of them going against teams like our offense,” Parker said. “Being physical up front is their key. They want to beat you up. They’ve got big strong guys on the offensive side, on the defensive side, and we have to be able to match that physicality.”