receiver Brian Harrell hauls in a pass during a practice session
Monday. The Rockets open the 2008 season Friday night at Orange.
(West Life photo by Larry Bennet)
area teams set to open 2008 grid season
By Jim Horvath
Published Aug. 20, 2008
moment all high school football fans have been waiting for is finally
The 2008 high school football season kicks off this
Friday night with all of the Westshore teams in action. Olmsted
Falls, picked by area media as one of the Top 25 teams in the Greater
Cleveland area, travels to Toledo St. Francis, while North Olmsted,
also hoping to contend for the Southwestern Conference crown, stays
home to take on Valley Forge.
In other area games, Westlake opens at home against
North Ridgeville, while Rocky River begins the Rick Adams era with
a trip to Medina Highland. At Fairview, two more new head coaches
get their first games under their belts as Dave Latkovic’s Warriors
host Dave Geye’s Lutheran West Longhorns.
The Bay Rockets take to the road as well with a trip
to the east side when they take on Orange. Veteran coach Mike Peregord
begins his second season as the head coach of the Rockets and is
hoping to improve on last year’s 1-9 mark.
“We’re going to go as far as our offensive and defensive
lines take us,” said Peregord last weekend. “I think we learned
a lot of things and found some depth there in our scrimmage last
Friday against Southview. We found some kids that should be able
to help us, but then again there were some kids who didn’t step
“We’ve progressed, but right now I’m not really sure
how much. I don’t think we’ll really know that until we get into
our season,” he said.
Peregord and his staff are certain to find out more
this Friday night when they have their full complement of players.
The Rockets fell to Southview, 28-0, in that scrimmage, with 15
players not participating. Four were held out because of injury,
and 11 were held out due to “team rules violations,” according to
“If it would have been a regular season game, the
players we held out due to injury probably could have played,” he
said. “The others will be ready to go as well, but I’m not sure
having them last Friday would have made a big difference or not.
“We did not play well, but we’re not going to use
those players being out as an excuse,” said Peregord.
“Southview’s overall team speed presented a problem
for us all night. Speed like that isn’t something we can duplicate
in practice, and I don’t think we were mentally prepared for that.”
Bay’s inexperience showed, said Peregord, with several
younger players getting playing opportunity.
“For one thing, I don’t think we’ll see a team on
our schedule with that kind of speed,” he said. “Even their linemen
were quick. When you don’t have a lot of varsity experience, you
don’t really get the idea of the speed you need to play at that
The lines will be the key for the Rockets since seven
skill positions players return from last year’s team. Overall, 12
starters return, with only six of them seniors.
Those seniors are wide receiver/linebacker Brian Boss
(6-0, 175), running back/defensive lineman Evan Mutch (6-0, 180),
running back/linebacker Zak LaCure (5-10, 175), quarterback/defensive
back Brendan Rehor (5-10, 165), wide receiver/defensive back Hunter
Liptrap (6-0, 175) and wide receiver/linebacker Brian Harrell (6-3,
Junior running back/defnsive back Owen Dalton (5-11,
165) returns, as well as fellow junior linemen Harlen Page (6-3,
230) and Andrew Stylski (6-4, 245). Three sophomore linemen return
in Jake Johnston (6-2, 245), Conner O’Doherty (6-0, 200) and Jack
Kendrick (6-2, 270).
While the Rockets will have a youthful look, Peregord
isn’t keen on calling it a rebuilding year.
“I hate to use that term because the previous two
head coaches are excellent coaches,” said Peregord. “They did a
fine job here, and I learned from each of them. But as a head coach,
you have your way of doing things that might be different, and I’m
no different in that regard.
“We’ve started building this season from the bottom
up,” he said. “For example, we revamped our weight program. I think
our younger players, our juniors and sophomores, have bought into
that and have improved. We also ran a speed camp this summer on
Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“And we’ve tried to make our players more accountable.
We do a lot of motivational things, and there are no excuses for
missing practice. We don’t punish by running them, but we do reward
the players who participate in all of the required workouts.
“We’re trying to set a tone here,” said Peregord.
“We’re trying to get back to the way it was 15 years or so ago when
Bay went 8-2, 8-2 and was beating all of the teams in the Southwestern
“Our numbers are good, and the kids who have stayed
with it are the one who really want to play football. They’re committed
to it. We have our core players who make excuses to be at football
practice. The kids who dropped out were pretty much the ones who
hadn’t played before,” he said.
In all, Peregord feels like the program is on its
way back to the winning ways of the past.
“We’ve got a higher percentage of kids committed to
the game than we had last year,” he said. “And our younger players
have become more and more committed as we go along. I think that’s
going to play huge dividends for us down the road. I think it will
have a ripple effect down through the lower levels of the program.”