Rockets gear up for full pads

Friday, July 24, 2015
Forrest head coach Matt Kriesky addresses his troops after practice Monday in Chapel Hill. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Forrest Rockets have come a long way in a matter of months, missing some baseball players for spring practice, going through the dead period, and coming back to re-gear before making some big strides in the 7-on-7 drills last week.

"I thought we actually ended our spring well and this summer in June and July we have continued to do a lot of football," Forrest head coach Matt Kriesky said. "This week, having the helmet, shoulder pads and girdle on, the team chemistry is starting to gel."

Kriesky's team has made some great strides in practice, saying on Monday, "We had a great offensive session and it was a good day today, we're learning how to practice again and we're trying to work on fast; everything we do we want fast, especially the speed of execution."

Forrest offensive line coach Eli Stephenson explains some technique to some Rocket players.

Big step ahead

High school practice takes a giant leap Monday when teams can go to full pads in preparation for the upcoming season.

"We did well in the 7-on-7s and we got some young kids some work and I think our kids competed each and every game," Kriesky said. "Our record may have not showed it, but as a coach you look to see your kids compete and we did that."

Nathan Trout, who has stepped up his game this summer, makes a big tackle in practice.

The Rockets' first scrimmage will be at Mt. Pleasant on July 31, followed by a trip to Spring Hill on Aug.7 and concluding with the Forrest Jamboree on Aug. 14.

"It'll be good to see some speed versus Mt. Pleasant. I know they'll be athletic and physical, so I think this will be a really good test for our kids," the coach said. "And as you know by the way we play football, we like to run the football, so we want to work on that."

Beating the heat

The Rocket defense gang tackles a ball carrier during defensive drills on Monday.

The Rockets, like many squads in Tennessee have been practicing in the morning to beat the summer heat.

"We try to start around 6:30 a.m. and go to about 9:30 or 10 usually," Kriesky said. "The kids seem to like coming in early and go swimming or whatever they want to do the rest of the day in the summertime."

Kriesky also talked about Dylan Pendley, who is a member of the Marshall County Babe Ruth 14-year-old all-star team that is going to the Southeast Regional in Jupiter, Florida, next week.

Jake Elkins (17) sacks the quarterback.

"Trying to groom a young man to start at strong safety is a big deal, but I can't fault the kid for wanting to go play baseball in Florida," Kriesky said. "It's a dream of his and I won't keep him from following a dream and doing something he wants to do. The days he missed he'll make up and I'm sure he'll get back going."

Looking ahead

Forrest posted a 7-4 record last season, but lost 35-30 in the first round of the playoffs to Decatur County Riverside.

This season, the Rockets open up on the road in back-to-back weeks with longtime foes Huntland and Moore County, who are no longer in the same region as Forrest.

If the Rockets were looking for a leader to emerge and step in the gap, they couldn't have chosen a better one than senior lineman Boone Sweeney, who garnered an all-region selection last year and was voted to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association's all-state squad.

"Sweeney is a heck of a team leader," the coach said. "He's leading by example and becoming a vocal leader as well, so I couldn't be more prouder of that kid. He's bringing this team together."

The Rockets are aligned in a Class AA Region 4 that includes Cascade, Community, Eagleville, East Robertson High, Jackson County, Watertown and Westmoreland.