Rockets feature speed, athleticism

Aug 17, 2022 | Sports | 0 comments

 

BY YANEEK SMITH

Coach: Mike May, 15th year, 81-62

Last Year: 5-5 (2-3 SBC Bay)

Outlook: In its final season in the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division, Oak Harbor would like to go out on top.

If their skill-position players perform like they’re capable of doing, the Rockets could make some noise this season. At quarterback, there is a battle between junior Jaqui Hayward, last year’s starter, and sophomore Michael Lalonde.

“We have a quarterback battle going on — some people call it a controversy — but we like it,” said May, now in his 15th season leading the Rockets. “Jaqui Hayward and Michael LaLonde are both competing for the starting position and we’ve been splitting their snaps evenly.”

Last season, Hayward, a dual-threat quarterback, completed 79-of-153 passes for 748 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed 102 times for 664 yards and six scores.

Whoever falls short of being named the starting quarterback could see action at another position because of their athleticism.

Oak Harbor will employ three-wide, two-back sets as well as four-wide, one back formations. And tight end Garry Brooks will see action as well.

The top running backs are Dalton Witter and Carson Ridener. Witter was fifth in the area in rushing yards last season, carrying the ball 92 times for 736 yards and 11 touchdowns. Ridener started as a freshman and had 40 carries for 317 yards and five touchdowns.

“Carson plays our H-back position,” said May. “We move him around quite a bit — he’ll be playing some fullback, tailback and wide receiver.”

Hayden Buhro (22 catches, 229 yards, 5 TD) and Judson Overmyer (10 catches, 145 yards, TD) will start at wide receiver with the rest of the unit consisting of Jaxson Overmyer, Ethan Stokes and Tyler Thompson.

“We have about 5-6 kids that can play receiver,” said May. “Those are guys that will be in the mix.”

The Rockets have their share of speed on the offensive side of the ball.

But no offense can function without a good offensive line, which returns three starters.

Scott Smith (5-7, 200 lbs.) is the center and Garrett Lindsay (5-11, 205) and Evan Hall (5-11, 215) are the guards. Zach Clune (6-4, 220) and Gavin Bolyard (6-5, 265) are the tackles.

The Rockets have had scrimmages with Bowling Green and most recently against Bellevue, one of northwest Ohio’s best programs.

“We had a great week, we felt like we got better every day and the kids came with good attitudes and got a lot of work done. Bellevue always gives us a good gauge of where we are, and our kids played hard and were fast on both sides of the ball,” said May. “We had some explosive plays on offense and a couple of long touchdowns, and defensively flew to the ball and did a good job tackling.”

Oak Harbor will look a little different on defense this year as it is going with a three-man front after employing a 4-2-5 formation in the past. Hall is playing nose guard and a number of other players are part of the rotation like Jacob Ridener (6-0, 205), who will be a hybrid of a defensive end and outside linebacker. Bolyard, Smith, Lindsay, Kaleb Wood (5-10, 290) and Dominic Wolf (5-10, 220) will also see playing time on the line.

Witter and Carson Ridener are the linebackers and Hayward and Judson Overmyer are the starters at cornerback with Thompson will see some time there, too. Lalonde is the starting free safety, and Jaxson Overmyer could see some time there as well. The strong-side safety is Brooks, the weak-side safety is Buhro and Leyton Losie could see some action as well.

The kicker will be Fulton Krupp, a freshman that plays soccer.

“He came to all of the workouts. He’s been doing a great job with kickoffs, extra points and field goals,” said May. “We’re really excited about him.”

The punter will likely be Lalonde or Clune.

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