Rockland High School
Conference: Sawtooth Conference East Division
Classification: 1A D2
Head Coach: Lance Freeman
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Previous Experience: 5 years
Record Last Year: 8-2
Andy Nelson, Lalo Hidalgo
Spencer Permann, QB, Sophomore
Reed Peterson, OL/DL, Junior
Paxton Boyer, TE, Junior
Zach Smith, RB, Junior
Michael McClanahan, FB/DL, Sophomore
Returning Players with Honors:
Spencer Permann, LB – 1st Team All-Conference
Incoming “impact” players:
Cooper Bradshaw, RB/LB, Sophomore
Michael McClanahan, RB/DL/LB, Sophomore
Written by: Matt Harris (@IdahoSportsMatt)
Coming off of one of their best football seasons in school history, the Rockland Bulldogs will attempt to defend their 1AD2 Sawtooth East Division crown and advance farther in the postseason than ever before.
They’ll have to do that without one single senior, however.
It’s a relative youth movement at Rockland, as a number of contributors from last season’s squad return this year for head coach Lance Freeman, now in his second season as head coach of the Bulldogs.
Taking over at quarterback this season is sophomore Spencer Permann. That position has been occupied by a Permann for quite some time now: Spencer’s older brother, Rex, was the signal caller through last season. With Rex now graduated, it’s Spencer’s turn to shine at one of the most important positions in football.
“He has a great arm, first of all,” Freeman said to the Idaho State Journal. “He’s going to enable us to open the field up even more than his brother last year.”
Some added personnel on both sides of the ball should help Rockland’s cause as well.
“We are going to be able to interchange kids more this year and hope to stay fresher,” he said. “Staying as injury-free as possible is a key for us.”
Freeman said that sophomore running back Cooper Bradshaw will likely have a big impact on the direction of their offense this year, which averaged 37.1 points per game in 2014. Junior tailback Zach Smith will help carry the load in the backfield with sophomore fullback Michael McClanahan creating running lanes. Junior tight end Paxton Boyer will give Permann another big target and junior Reed Peterson will anchor the offensive line.
“As a team, we have great quickness and agility, “Freeman said, who added that the Bulldogs passing offense should improve dynamically this year.
“We want to spread the field and strike fast,” he said.
Defensively, as it is at most small 1A schools, players play both ways and look to make an impact on both sides of the ball.
Peterson will lead the defensive line along with McClanahan. Bradshaw will anchor the linebacking core and Permann will play a factor on the defense too.
“We want to improve our pass coverage overall,” said Freeman of his defense, which gave up an average of 22.2 points per game last season. “But we will be quicker to the ball this year.”
The early season schedule does not leave much room for error. Rockland will face off against three non-conference opponents before opening up the conference schedule on September 18th. The Bulldogs begin the year on the road at Dietrich and Grace before returning home to face powerhouse Carey, a team that beat Rockland twice last season including a 68-24 shellacking in Carey.
The conference schedule then begins with a trip up I-15 to Dubois to take on Clark County. Then, the game that Freeman points to as the ‘must-see’ game for the fans comes on September 25th, as the Bulldogs host Watersprings of Idaho Falls.
“This game will have a great impact on the conference championship,” he said. “It’s also our homecoming game.”
Rockland then finishes the season with a trip to Bancroft to take on North Gem before hosting Mackay on October 23rd.
It’s a season of promise and building for the young Bulldogs. With the incredible community support and pride in Rockland that helps fuel their inner-fire, the Bulldogs hope they can continue to improve with each week and be a force to be reckoned with come playoff-time.
“We want to work hard and leave it all out on the field,” Freeman said. “I’m excited about this team because of their desire to win and work hard. I love working with the kids and trying to make young men better in all the things that they do.”
The Bulldogs will only get better as the season wears on. Having no seniors on the roster allows for an increased window of immediate success with current players. It gives time for the juniors to mature as leaders and for the sophomore and freshman to gain valuable experience that will serve them throughout their high school careers.
Rockland isn’t ready to give up their division crown. They are ready to take it to their competition once again this season and compete on a state level.
“Last season is gone for us,” Freeman said. “We are focused on the here and now.”
For the Bulldogs, it’s time to go to work.