2016 Lowellville Football Preview

The Rockets open play at Poland against Valley Christian on Saturday (August 27).

Lowellville Rockets High School Football - Lowellville, Ohio

2016 Lowellville Football Preview
Head Coach: Doug Velasquez, 1st season at Lowellville
2015 Record: 2-8 (0-5), 6th place in ITCL Blue
2016 Division/Region: 7/25

More:High School Football previews from other teams

Revisiting ITCL History
League Championships: None
Total League Record: 29-39 (42.6%)
Winning Seasons in League Play: 5 (2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014)
Best League Record: 5-2 (2009)
Worst League Record: 0-5 (2015)

2015 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 8.7 (54th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 40.8 (53rd in Area)

2015 Results
McDonald 62 Rockets 13
Jackson-Milton 42 Rockets 7
Sebring 28 Rockets 14
Mineral Ridge 46 Rockets 0
Western Reserve 56 Rockets 0
Rockets 40 Leetonia 0
Rockets 1 St. John Central 0 (forfeit)
Wellsville 33 Rockets 0
Windham 21 Rockets 13
Lucas 70 Rockets 0

Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: Jake Rotz – 520 yards, 50.0%, TD
Rushing: A.J. D’Altorio – 445 yards, 4.6 ypc, 4 TDs
Receiving: Evan Stevens – 9 catches, 57 yards
Tackles: Achili Minch – 55

Recent AP First-Team selections
2015: Paul Ginnis, DB/SR
2003: Steve Carchedi, SR/DL
2002: Andy Peterson, SR/RB
1998: Tim Sturgis, SR/OL
1998: Vince Perry, SR/RB
1997: George Lyons, SR/End
1995: Mike Cruz, SR/RB
1993: Dan Eagle, DL/JR

Recent Rocket Post-Season Finishes
2013: Division VII (Region 23) Participant
2002: Division VI (Region 21) Semifinalist
2001: Division VI (Region 21) Participant

2016 Schedule
Aug. 27 – at Valley Christian at Poland, 7 pm
Sept. 2 – at Windham, 7
Sept. 9 – Wellsville, 7
Sept. 16 – St. John Central, 7
Sept. 23 – Leetonia, 7
Sept. 30 – Western Reserve, 7*
Oct. 7 – at Mineral Ridge, 7*
Oct. 14 – Sebring, 7*
Oct. 21 – at Jackson-Milton, 7*
Oct. 28 – at McDonald, 7*

Keys on Offense
With a new coaching staff, there will be changes made. Last year, as a freshman, Jake Rotz completed 50.0% of his tosses (52-104) for 520 yards. Senior A.J. D’Altorio only carried the ball 13 times as a sophomore (for 65 yards). Last Fall, D’Altorio led Lowellville in rushes (97), yards (445 yards) and touchdown runs (4). His classmate Evan Stevens picked up 318 yards on the ground while picking up 4.7 yards per tote (67 attempts). Stevens also finished third in receptions (9) for 57 yards.

Keys on Defense
Lowellville’s defense has allowed over 30 points nine times in their last fourteen games. The loss of defensive lineman Austin Fitch (61 tackles, 5 sacks) – who was the only Rocket to be selected to the First-Team All-League last year – will be difficult to replace. Junior Achili Minch stopped 55 ball carriers in 2015.

Final Analysis
A whirlwind of moves began following the 2015 season, coach Jeff D’Altorio resigned after five seasons at the helm of the Rockets’ football program (17-34). A little over a month later, former East coach P.J. Mays was hired to replace D’Altorio. Three months after that, the position was open again after Mays resigned. Insert Doug Velasquez, who has served as an assistant and head coach for over two decades in the Valley. Velasquez was Mineral Ridge’s head coach in 2013 when he led the Rams to a 5-5 record. He has also assisted at Boardman, Beaver Local, Salem, Springfield, Struthers, and Ursuline.

The Rockets have finished with just one winning season (2013: 6-5) over the last twelve seasons. Lowellville has registered a 9-23 mark in their last thirty-two road games.

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