A strong senior class leads Lowellville into a promising 2017

Lowellville will travel to Leetonia in week one.

Lowellville Rockets high school football
Lowellville names Doug Velasquez football coach

2017 Lowellville Football Preview
Head Coach: Doug Velasquez, 2nd season at Lowellville (0-9)
Last Season: 0-9 (0-5), 6th place ITCL Blue
Division: VII (Region 25)

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: 35.0% (35-65)
Playoff Appearances: 1
Playoff Record: 0-1
League Championships: None
League Record: 27-39

More:High School Football previews from other teams

2016 Results
McDonald 45 Rockets 0
Jackson-Milton 26 Rockets 0
Sebring 54 Rockets 20
Mineral Ridge 44 Rockets 24
Western Reserve 43 Rockets 6
Leetonia 33 Rockets 32, OT
Wellsville 48 Rockets 16
Windham 28 Rockets 6
Valley Christian 48 Rockets 12

2016 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 12.9 (51st in Area)
Scoring Defense: 41.0 (55th in Area)
…The Rockets’ defense has allowed an average of 40.9 points to be scored over their last 19 games as they’ve scored just 10.7 during that same time span.

New League: Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference
Mineral Ridge
Western Reserve

The Good News
Returning Starters: Offense – 8; Defense – 8
“Last year, we were young,” points out coach Doug Velasquez. “That will change this Fall with a large senior class. We’ll look to our skill players, who have the potential to be very explosive.” Two of those seniors will be Achili Minch and Dylan Sallaz. Minch, who was recognized by the ITCL last season, returns at running back and safety as well as the team’s kickoff returner. Sallaz will work into the offensive scheme in a ‘slash’ role as quarterback and running back. Sallaz will be back at safety on defense. Junior Jake Rotz is slotted as the Rockets’ quarterback and into the secondary on defense. Last year’s offensive numbers won’t jump off the page at you but the 12.9 scoring average was a higher number by 4-points from the previous season (2015: 8.7 to 2016: 12.9). Over the course of their final six games, the Rockets took Leetonia into overtime (lost 33-32) and scored 20-points or more two more times (against Mineral Ridge, 24; and at home versus Sebring, 20). Junior receiver Matt Hvisdak, a player who coach Velasquez describes as ‘an all-around athlete’, is back in the mix. A pair of sophomores, who the staff is very high on, return in the form of linebacker Vinnie Kacir and lineman Jacob Jarvis. Kacir started every game as a freshman and handled all of the defensive calls. Jarvis also started each game at tackle as his role will expand onto the defensive line (DT) this season.

2017 Schedule
Aug. 25 –at Leetonia, 7
Sept. 1 – Windham, 7
Sept. 8 – at Wellsville, 7
Sept. 15 – Mineral Ridge, 7
Sept. 22 – at Waterloo, 7
Sept. 29 – at Western Reserve, 7
Oct. 6 – at Sebring, 7
Oct. 13 – Jackson-Milton, 7
Oct. 20 – Springfield, 7
Oct. 27 – McDonald, 7

The Bad News
The Rockets’ last victory came on September 25, 2015 – a 40-0 win over Leetonia. Fourteen games have passed since then. They’re currently on a 9-game losing skid at home as well. Without the services of Evan Stevens and Tyler Stellmar, the Rockets must improve upon last season minus arguably their top two players. Lowellville will look to regain their 2012 form when they were in the upper half of the area in points allowed per game (25th, 20.7). Since 2004, the Rockets’ football program has had just one winning season (2013: 6-5).

“We’ll need to work on our offensive and defensive lines,” indicates Velasquez. “We got stronger over the off-season, but we have a new offensive line coach with new schemes and techniques.”

Key Number
A change of scenery may do the Rockets some good – they’ve gone 10 straight league games without a single victory (0-10).

Featured Stat
Lowellville has lost 19 straight games when their opponents’ have scored 24-points or more. The Rockets’ last win where an opponent scored three touchdowns and a field goal or more was on September 19, 2014 (def. Sebring, 48-28).

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