Rockets zero in on Perry County
The Forrest Rockets kick off the 2012 prep football season Friday night with a Week Zero ballgame that takes them on a long trek to Linden for a much awaited re-match versus the Perry County Vikings.
It will be the first game for new coach Joe Moos as he takes a talented Rockets squad on the first of three long yellow bus trips in the first four weeks to begin the campaign.
Forrest will travel to "The Bowl" in Collinwood next week before returning to "The Rock" in Week 2 for the home opener versus the Community Vikings.
Forrest finished 8-4 last season, losing in the last 15 seconds to Decatur County Riverside in the second round of the TSSAA playoffs and that loss still stings.
"I think that loss is added motivation for the guys to definitely make sure that we can build on that loss and learn when the time comes to get all those small details right," said Moos.
Moos has a senior signal caller in Brooks Lamb, who is fully recovered from dual shoulder surgeries before last season and the talented quarterback is ready for the upcoming season after a spring and summer of tough workouts.
Lamb said about the playoff loss, "It was heartbreaking to lose in that last 15 seconds and it definitely has helped us put a chip on our shoulder."
Perry County was the Region 6A runner-up last season and reeled off nine straight wins to begin the season before a 21-6 loss coming against the eventual Class A champions Wayne County in Week 11.
The Vikings (10-2) would not fully recover from the Wayne County defeat and also lost in the second round of the playoffs to Huntington, but their biggest loss comes from behind center in Class A Mr. Football Jacob Tucker.
Also gone are skill players Taylor Dill, Garrett Hill and R.J. Brown.
Junior quarterback Dalton Broadway takes over for Tucker and by all accounts, Broadway can also sling the football and has some good targets remaining in the stable with Andrew Mathis, Bryce Trull, and R.J. Qualls. Qualls will also be the workhorse in the backfield for Perry County and most certainly, the Vikings will run the ball more often than any time with Tucker under center.
Perry County won last year in Chapel Hill 22-7 in Week Zero, but the Rockets led 7-0 at the half before Tucker turned it on and pulled out the win.
Tucker ended the contest with 96 rushing yards on 16 carries with one rushing TD and went 12-21 in the air for 200 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Forrest may look different to Rocket fans this season with multiple formations and more passing plays installed by Moos, but the meat of the Rocket offense will be the ground game, led by senior Richie Smith, who has moved from his fullback position to halfback.
The move was intended to get Smith running downhill and with a big head of steam towards the Viking defense that will have a hard time stopping the bruising runner.
After Smith pounds the rock, Moos will throw some speed and deception at the Vikings with sophomore Dontay Baugh and senior Brandon Beech.
The Rockets would love to get the ground game going early and get a lead on the road.
A 1-0 start to the season would give the revamped Rockets some great momentum for their early road warrior schedule and they will get that first 'W' with a tough 21-14 triumph Friday night versus the Vikings.