“I’m looking forward to another exciting season, as we’ll be ready to go when the season begins.”

~ Rocket head coach

Pat Elder


With all of the success that the Richmond-Burton football team has had over the past several years, it should be of no surprise that the Rockets have high expectations once again this season.

On the same note, other area teams and coaches are also focused on the Rockets as being one of the teams to watch out for in competing for a division title.

The Rockets have won the Big Northern Conference Eastern Division title three of the last four years including qualifying for the post-season playoffs each season. They just missed a fourth consecutive league title last year and had to settle for second place with a 3-2 mark and a 7-4 overall showing, where they fell to Evergreen Park in the second round of the playoffs.

“I’m looking forward to another exciting season, as we’ll be ready to go when the season begins,” Rocket head coach Pat Elder said. “We should be able to continue to improve throughout the season and hope to be able to contend for the conference title.”

The Rockets will have some key holes to fill if they are going to make another run again this season. Richmond will have to replace the void left by the graduation of 18 seniors including the likes of quarterback Matt Malecki, running backs Chris Vlasak and Adam Kinsella along with defensive end Ryne Blanton.

All of the above athletes were two-way starters, who played big roles on a potent offensive attack and an aggressive defense. Richmond will have to replace and account for the 2,600 yards and 28 touchdowns provided by Vlasak, Kinsella and Malecki through the running game.

No worries though, as the Rockets return 10 starters to their roster including six on the offense and another four on defense. Plus Richmond benefits from having numerous newcomers who are eager to make an impact with their athleticism and determination.

“We return some quality linemen with experience and size, which is definitely a positive,” Elder said. “Our backfield will be young and a work in progress, as their development will be the key to how we progress during the season.”

The Rockets will need to rely on big things from senior quarterback Danny Rygiel, who stepped in and gain experience last year when Malecki got injured. Kyle Kirby, Nate Hansel, Brad Boelkow and Luke Brinkman are competing for running back positions, while Vince Battaglia, Macus Duha and Tyler Talatian are fighting it out for fullback.

Richmond is also looking for good things from returning seniors Ethan Petersen (OG/DT), Bryce Wagner (OT/DT), Chris Gort (OT/DT), Nick Bianchini (TE/DE), Josh Williams (TE/DE), Nick Hogan (TE/LB), Cory Prejna (C/DT), Eric Paparigian (OG/DT), Tyler Meredith (C/NG), Luke Stocker (OG/DT), Troy Zaremba (OT/DT), Kory Klicker (RB/DB), Jake Holian (RB/DB) and Sergio Hernandez (K/TE/DE).

Top newcomers for the Rockets consist of juniors Alex Petersen (C/DT), John Stasieczek (OT/DT), Chad Autschbach (OG/DT), Ethan Sheedlo (OG/DT), Alben Rymarz (C/DT), Nick Schmidt (FB/LB), Steve Coutteau (RB/LB), Brandon Kilcoyne (RB/DB) and Jason Rae (RB/DB).

The Rockets strengths are their returning players, leadership, positive/winning attitudes and determination. A so-called weakness would be the time that it will take some of the younger players to gain varsity experience and feel comfortable at their positions.

If Richmond is going to compete for another division title, they will have to fight it out with the likes of North Boone and Harvard.

“Once again, our league will be very tough and competitive from top to bottom, as any team that comes out of it should have an opportunity to do well in the post-season,” Elder said.

Elder, who is in his 8th season at the helm for the Rockets, will be helped out by assistants Todd Ghilani, Colin McKillip, Brent Mansky, Mike Cosgrove and Anthony Rygiel.



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