In the huddle

General

Class: AAA

Enrollment: 951 (502 male)

Offense: Spread

Defense: 4-3

Last year: 1-9 (0-5 in YAIAA Division I)

 

Coaching staff

Coach: Russ Stoner (1-9 in one season)

Assistants: Andy Stauffer, Eric Glass, Will Rider, Troy Smith, John Erickson, Jeff Richards, Shane Corriere

 

2011 team statistics

·Rushes-yards: 360-1,033

·Passing: 57-138-874-9

·Turnover ratio: Minus-9

·PF: 119

·PA: 415

 

Spring Grove head coach Russ Stoner is taking on a new challenge this season.

Stoner, who spent 16 years at Central York as defensive coordinator before coming to Spring Grove last season, will call the offensive plays this season.

Last season, the Rockets scored just 119 points, an average of 11.9 per game. This season they bring back eight offensive starters who gained valuable time last season on an inexperienced team that finished 1-9.

"I fired myself as the defensive coordinator, per se," Stoner said. "I'm going to help coordinate it. I'm going to be the offensive coordinator this year.

"(Central York head coach Brad Livingston) and I used to always say you would watch so much offense that you become so offensive-minded as a defensive coordinator."

Senior Matt Runge - who last year saw time at running back, tight end, wideout and quarterback - will be the starting quarterback this season.

Runge had 332 passing yards, 309 rushing yards and 47 receiving yards a year ago.

"Coach came in and changed the culture of the whole school," Runge said. "Everything really has a purpose. We know the game better."

Seth Hildebrand, who started out as the Rockets signal caller last season, moves to wide receiver this year. Tim Nee (291 receiving yards in 2011) and Logan Hagerman (314 receiving yards) will join Hildebrand as the pass catchers.

Senior Ben Cregger returns to anchor a more experienced line, which will try to open holes for running back Jeff Delaughter (439 rushing yards in 2011).

"We're more comfortable offensively and defensively, so we should be better on both sides of the ball," said Cregger, who also plays on the defensive line.

Assistant coach Shane Corriere will take over calling the defensive plays this season. The Rockets will still employ the 4-3, high-pressure system for a squad that returns 10 defensive players.

"We're going to get after it," Stoner said. "I'll still have a heavy hand in the defense."

A year ago, the Rockets were outscored 415-119, a stat not lost on Stoner.

"We're looking on building what we did a year ago," Stoner said. "We have 3,300 yards of offense and 800 tackles coming back. That's 3,300 yards coming back of a team that averaged 11 points a game and its 800 tackles coming back of a team that gave up 45 points a game. I told the guys, 'You decide, where do we go from there?'"

Save the date: Early season road games against Susquehanna Township (Week 1) and West York (Week 3) will test the Rockets. Last season, Spring Grove dropped its first three games (Central Dauphin East, Susquehanna Township and West York) by a combined 143-37 score.

Intangibles: Spring Grove didn't return any offensive or defensive starters last year. This year, 18 starters return.

"We played varsity football with a JV football team," Stoner said of last season. "We didn't have one statistic back, not a carry, not a throw, not a reception, not a tackle, not a thing. We went out with a bunch of new football players. What gets me excited for this season is that our last practice last season was probably our best practice."

Bottom line: Spring Grove returns 24 letter winners as it moves to Class AAA this season. The Rockets were outscored by an average of 30 points a game last season. A more seasoned lineup on both sides of the ball should provide for a more competitive season.

 

TWO-MINUTE DRILL


BEN CREGGER
Offensive/defensive lineman

Who is the one player on your team that you wouldn't want to face? Andy Melhorn. He's a bulldog.

Which NFL player would you compare yourself to? Maurkice Pouncey, because he's a hard worker and plays center.

What's your favorite pregame music? Ninetail. One of our junior high coaches is the lead singer in it.

Do you have a nickname? If so, how did you get it? Everybody just calls me Cregger.

What's your favorite move on the field? Just to pancake people. I love to pancake people.

If they made a movie of your life, who plays you? I don't know that. (Coach Stoner chimes in, "I'd think he'd have to play himself.")

If you could have dinner with any three people -- dead or alive -- who would it be? Maurkice Pouncey, Wayne Tribue, Urban Meyer. I can gain the experience of the two linemen in the NFL, and Urban Meyer because I looked up to him at Florida. If I had the opportunity to play for him, I'd play for him. He's just that kind of coach that I'd like to play for.

What was your favorite thing to do at elementary school recess? Play two-hand touch football.

What is the one thing you do that drives your mom or dad crazy? I'm a football addict, so I'm always at football, always football-minded. That probably drives them crazy that I'm thinking about football all the time.

 

Date Opponent Time
8/31 at Susquehanna Township 7 p.m.
9/7 Susquehannock 7 p.m.
9/14 at West York 7 p.m.
9/22 at Kennard-Dale 1 p.m.
9/28 Northeastern 7 p.m.
10/5 Central York 7 p.m.
10/12 at Red Lion 7 p.m.
10/19 William Penn 7 p.m.
10/26 Dallastown 7 p.m.
11/2 at South Western 7:30 p.m.

MORE ONLINE:

Click here to print out and build your own Spring Grove "Paper Champ."

Click here to print a week-by-week schedule for all 22 YAIAA teams, plus Gettysburg, Northern York and Red Land.

 

RELATED:

2011 preview: Rockets rebuilding from scratch

York Daily Record 2011 Division I football all-stars

York Daily Record 2011 Division II football all-stars

York Daily Record 2011 Division III football all-stars