Rockland High School
Conference: Sawtooth Conference East Division
Classification: 1A D2
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Head Coach: Andrew Nelson
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Previous Experience: Two seasons as Assistant Coach at Rockland
Record Last Year: 4-5
State Titles: None
Spencer Permann, WR/TE
Michael McClanahan, RB
Cooper Bradshaw, LB
Rodney Parrish, DB
Pratt Matthews, DE/TE/QB
Kaden Woodworth, DB/TE
Landon Farr, DE/OL
Zach Porath, LB/C
Kade Parrish, OL/DL
Returning Players with Honors:
Spencer Permann, First Team All-Conference WR/TE
Michael McClanahan, Second Team All-Conference RB
Cooper Bradshaw, Second Team All-Conference LB
Rodney Parrish, Second Team All-Conference DB
Key Players lost from last year:
Zakery Smith, RB/LB
Reed Petersen, OL/DL
Incoming impact players:
Pratt Matthews, DE/TE/QB, Junior
Kaden Woodworth, DB/TE, Junior
Landon Farr, DE/OL, Junior
Zach Porath, LB/C, Junior
Written by: Matt Harris
In high school football, rebuilds can vary in length.
For some schools, it happens over the course of several seasons. For Rockland, it might be a fast process which produces big results in 2017. After going winless in 2015 and compiling a respectable 4-5 record last year, the Bulldogs are looking to take the next step.
“We return a great core of players in our junior and senior classes with game experience. Most of them have started for two or three years,” said head coach Andrew Nelson, now in his second season leading the Rockland program. “They bought into our system last year and we expect to continue to build and improve on it. There is a lot of excitement and a lot of expectations surrounding this team.”
Nelson isn’t the only one who believes that. A few rival coaches in the Sawtooth East Division have said that they expects the Bulldogs to be the front runner for the district championship. They pointed to the experience that Rockland brings back this year.
The trio of Spencer Permann, Michael McClanahan, and Rodney Parrish were responsible for most of the yards the team generated last season – all three of them return. Permann accounted for 18 total touchdowns and 1,429 yards, while McClanahan added six touchdowns and 780 yards of offense. Parrish chipped in four touchdowns and 717 yards as well. Expect Kaden Woodworth to get in on the action as well at tight end this season.
Rockland will be without the services of the now-graduated Zakery Smith at running back, a three-year starter whom Nelson said was the fastest player on the squad last year.
On the offensive line, three more starters return in Pratt Matthews, Zach Porath, and Kade Parrish. Nelson is expecting Landon Farr to make an impact on the line as well this season. Missing from the fray this year is Reed Peterson, who graduated earlier this year and whom Nelson called ‘the leader in the trenches’ over the past two seasons.
Having that amount of returning experience up front and in the backfield will certainly pay dividends for Rockland on offense and cause opposing teams much trouble.
“We return a very experienced offensive team and the starters will be relied on heavily,” said Nelson. “We have a balanced attack on offense and plan to use our depth and experience to our advantage. We have a lot of good players that can make plays with the ball in their hands.”
The head coach added that while a great amount of experience is back on the field, there are a few improvements his team needs to make offensively in order to take that next step.
“We need to eliminate the slow starts we suffered from last season and to cut back on our mental lapses,” he said. “Overall, we just need to be a much more disciplined team. We return a lot of starters but still need some guys to step up and fill the leadership void that we have had the past few seasons.”
As it is with small school football, many of the names seen on offense also play big roles on the defensive side. Rockland boasts seven returning starters to the defense in 2017.
“Our linebackers Permann, McClanahan, and Cooper Bradshaw are the strength of our defensive unit and we’ll look to them to set the tone of our defense,” said Nelson. Bradshaw recorded 92 tackles and three forced fumbles a year ago, with McClanahan adding 62 tackles.
Look for Matthews and Farr to assist in the defensive effort on the line. Porath will also contribute at linebacker, while Woodworth and Parrish will work to anchor a secondary that was thrashed by opposing teams in 2016.
“It didn’t take teams long to figure out that our pass defense was weak,” Nelson said. “To compete in our conference we need to improve our pass defense and limit the amount of big plays that we give up.”
The Bulldogs will get their first chance at testing their progress on Aug. 25 when they travel to District 4 to take on the Dietrich Blue Devils. The opening of the conference schedule begins a week later at home when they host Clark County on Sept. 1. Rockland then hits the road again to travel to Bruneau in District 3 and take on the Rimrock Raiders in a non-conference contest.
The team then faces an important stretch of the schedule in Week 4 and 5: games at state semifinalist Butte County and at reigning district champion North Gem.
“Butte County will be a tough road game, I feel they are the class of the conference and we need to beat them to be in contention,” said Nelson. “The following week we play North Gem on the road. They are our rival, they are well coached, and have had some great seasons recently. I feel that Week 4 and 5 will really determine where we end up in the conference.”
Rockland will then end the season with three straight home games starting on Sept. 29 against Mackay, followed by Sho-Ban on Oct. 6. After a bye week on Oct. 13, the Bulldogs wrap up the regular season against Watersprings on Oct. 20.
Nelson added that keeping players healthy on both sides of the ball would be crucial this year for their success.
“I think in small school football the X-factor is always staying healthy and having the numbers to compete late in the year,” he said.
As for the Sawtooth East Division, which gets four teams to the play-in round of the state tournament, Nelson feels that any number of teams could end up in the first round and potentially beyond.
“Butte County is the front-runner in our conference. They had a deep playoff run last season, return a lot of starters and have a lot of numbers,” he said. “North Gem will be a contender again. Although we haven’t played Mackay in a number of years, I expect them to be a team on the rise. They have some older kids and great tradition.”
Don’t count out the Bulldogs from any conversation regarding the conference championship. Rockland is a team that can’t be overlooked – one that is ready to take the next step.