The Rockets Football team has just wrapped up one of the best seasons in recent memory, finishing the regular season at a 4-2 mark, making third place in the Greater Catholic League. The record is indicative of the hard work from all players since workouts began last winter, according to head coach Mike Orlando.
“The buy in from players, the commitment from players, in all different areas – whether that be in the weight room, film study, just little things that add up to becoming a special team,” Orlando said.
“When you see guys helping other guys, that’s usually a sign that guys are invested. They’re not there just for their personal self. When you see older guys working with younger guys, it might not even have to do with football stuff, when you see guys volunteering for things, maybe it’s even outside, I’m going to go help move X, Y, Z for somebody, it shows they care and they’re committed to the process,” Orlando added.
Sophomore running back Tyler Snyder grinned and quickly responded to sharing his favorite memory from the season thus far. “Week 1 after we beat Northwest was the first time we’ve won in a while; the banana celebration got everyone hype. We were all jumping around and everyone was having fun. That whole night was just so special and it’ll be my favorite memory as a football player at McNick,” Snyder said.
The seniors collectively made the choice to work harder in the off-season and began doing Zoom workouts during quarantine.
“It was us as a team deciding that it’s going to be different this year, we’re not going to let what happened the past two years happen again. We really put work in during quarantine and during the off-season with all the online virtual workouts and in person and during summer. After that I realized this team could be special,” said senior wide receiver and defensive back Caden Conrad.
Conrad added that the biggest difference from last season was the confidence. “It’s a very confident team we have this year, we have high expectations for ourselves, and we go in every game expecting to win, and I think that is a good mindset to have and one that we haven’t had before.”
Junior receiver and defensive back Pierce Taylor said the differences may not be recognizable to the casual fan or student since they’re mostly behind the scenes.
“Practices are a lot better and we’ve gelled really well this year. As a team, like all grades have come together more-so than in past years, and I think Clay has really stepped us, as well,” Taylor said.
Orlando said younger players gaining experience has also been a major help in the success of this team. “I think we’re cashing in on some of those tough times a few years ago that we’re playing with guys we probably shouldn’t have played with – not that they were bad football players, they just weren’t ready, they were 15-year olds going against 18-year olds and it’s a big difference. So, I would say absolutely, that experience is invaluable and definitely contribute to the success this year,” Orlando added.
Going into the playoffs, the Rockets are set to host Chillicothe-Unioto, who is a coming off a 42-13 win in their first round game over Hillsboro. The game is set for a 7 PM kickoff, here at “The Penn”. Chillicothe-Unioto comes in with a record of 4-2, opposed to McNick’s 4-2. One thing is for certain, this is a different McNick football team from years’ previous and one that is poised to make a deep playoff run.
McNick’s 2020 football team stood for pictures at the beginning of the year. “The brotherhood is making this year so special,” said Snyder. Photo courtesy of https://www.mcnhs.org/athletics/teams/fall-sports/football/