Coach: Mike May, third year, 6-14.
Last year: 4-6 (3-4 Sandusky Bay Conference).
Forecast: May’s first season and a half got off to a rocky start, but the third-year Rockets coach is betting that the experience his players gained over the last two seasons will pay off in 2010.
“We were able to gain some momentum at the end of last season and we carried that with us through the offseason,” May said. “This will be our seniors’ third year in our system and they are providing excellent leadership.”
Oak Harbor, which was outscored by a 252-154 margin last season, returns seven starters on offense and six on defense. The Rockets have 15 seniors on a 49-man roster.
“The strength of our team is senior leadership, depth and team camaraderie,” May said. “Our goals are to compete for an SBC championship and qualify for the playoffs.”
Steve Young, a 6-3, 190-pound senior, returns at quarterback. Young passed for 550 yards and six touchdowns a year ago. He completed 46-of-105 passes (43.8 percent). Because Young was injured much of the year last year, returning junior Brian Mallernee also got plenty of experience behind center. Mallernee completed 33-of-60 passes (55 percent) for 276 yards and two touchdowns.
Leading rusher Jake Scott and fellow seniors D.J. Everett and Zach Priesman also return to the offense and will look to improve on last year’s numbers. Scott ran for 872 yards (5.6 per carry) and seven touchdowns last season while Priesman, a split end, caught 33 passes for 351 yards (10.6 per catch) and six scores.
Last year, Priesman was an Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Second Team selection at wide receiver and Scott was an honorable mention selection at tailback. Everett caught 19 passes for 173 yards (9.1) and one touchdown.
Everett (6-3, 195), who also returns at linebacker, had 19 catches for 173 yards and one touchdown in 2009.
The other returning starters on offense are senior linemen Jake Grzymkowski (6-2, 215) and John Bergman (6-4, 220) and junior lineman Allen Boss.
Oak Harbor’s six returning starters on defense are Everett at linebacker, linemen Bergman and Grzymkowski and senior defensive backs Davey Burkett and Scott. Burkett was a second-team All-SBC pick.
The team captains are Young, Scott, Priesman, Grzymkowski, Burkett and senior running back/linebacker Kyle Mincheff.
One of the goals for the Rockets is not allowing the Celestial Bowl Trophy to return to Genoa. It takes three straight wins by either team to retire the trophy. That contest is September 3 at Genoa.
Oak Harbor has retired the trophy seven times while Genoa has retired it once, after beating the Rockets from 1972-74. The Comets can retire the current trophy with a win this year at Genoa.
May is also hoping this year's team starts off like it did last year. Roster numbers have increased this year, which displays the school's desire to bring the football team to the forefront again.
Two years ago, May took over for Gary Quisno, who annually had the Rockets playing for a conference title and state playoff berths.
Last year, the Oak Harbor football team’s post-game locker room was the exact opposite of the season’s opener two years ago, when the Rockets got thumped by visiting Springfield 58-0.
May’s Rockets got payback, beating the host Blue Devils 14-0 to spoil the unveiling of Springfield’s new stadium. The two teams face off in the season opener again this year.
“The kids were excited,” said May. “We noticed they were focused and pretty anxious before the game. It was big for us after the way last year went and with everything that was going on, with the dedication of their new stadium and everything else going on. I was proud of our victory.”
Oak Harbor produced just 191 yards of offense, but the defense forced five turnovers and limited Springfield to 184 yards. Scott had two interceptions and forced a fumble, and Everett recovered a fumble for the Rockets, who led 14-0 at halftime.
May said Clyde is the team to beat in the SBC this year.
May came to Oak Harbor after three years as an assistant at Elmwood and eight years as the defensive coordinator at St. Mary’s Memorial.