Football: Expectations remain high at Burlington Central
By Erik Jacobsen email@example.com August 22, 2012 5:18PM
Burlington Central seniors (from left) Joel Lopez, Joe Breeden, Ryan Ritchie and Tyler Majewski are back to lead the Rockets this season. | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
BURLINGTON CENTRAL ROCKETS
2011 record: 7-3
Coach: Rich Crabel (7-3 in 2nd season)
Aug. 24 at Hampshire 7:15
Aug. 31 vs. Stillman Valley 7
Sept. 7 at Rockford Christian 7
Sept. 14 at Harvard 7
Sept. 21 vs. Genoa-Kingston 7
Sept. 28 at Marengo 7
Oct. 5 vs. Richmond-Burton 7
Oct. 12 at Rock Falls 7
Oct. 19 vs. North Boone 7
Updated: November 30, 2012 11:30AM
Burlington Central has plenty of valid reasons to lower expectations this fall.
The Rockets lost to graduation a number of key players from last year’s successful squad, including most of the team’s defensive leaders. Also gone are four players who transferred to other schools, including a pair of All-Big Northern East honorees.
All the turnover means Burlington Central will have a much different look this season, but nonetheless the expectations remain the same.
Last year the Rockets posted a 7-3 record, ended a three-year playoff drought and came within a 9-7 loss to Richmond-Burton of winning the BNC East title. Now the 2012 team hopes to build off that success and raise the bar even higher.
“We fill out preseason goal sheets, and we tell the kids if you don’t mean it, don’t say it,” said Burlington Central coach Rich Crabel, the 2011 Courier-News Coach of the Year. “I can tell you they didn’t back down from any of their goals.”
Senior quarterback Ryan Ritchie is back for his third season as the varsity starter after passing for 1,117 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior.
Don’t be surprised if the 6-foot, 185-pound Ritchie’s passing stats go up this year given Burlington Central’s depth at wide receiver. Seniors Joe Breeden and Tyler Majewski and junior transfer A.J. Fisher figure to be among the most frequent targets.
“We have a number of kids who can play receiver,” Crabel said. “Ritchie is going to have a lot of kids to throw the ball to.”
Senior tight end Joel Lopez will be an impact player up front for the Rockets and senior Robbie Frederickson is a returning starter along the offensive line. Senior Jawad Aburmishan is trying to work his way back from a leg injury and could be another contributor on the line.
In the offensive backfield, senior Dishon Rambo and junior Reilly Marino will help carry the load after last year’s leading rusher Joel Bouagnon transferred to Aurora Christian.
The outlook on defense is a little murkier as Burlington Central looks to plug a number of gaps from the unit that held opponents to an area-best 10.2 points per game last fall.
Junior safety Casey Matthews is one player the Rockets have high hopes for this year after he missed most of his sophomore season with a hip injury.
Lopez will likely anchor the defensive line while Breeden and Majewski will see time as defensive backs. Fisher is also expected to contribute in the secondary as a cornerback.
“Right now we are a defense of unknowns,” Crabel said. “It’s just a bunch of kids who are working really hard, who know what our expectations are and who are looking to fill those spots.”