By Wade Linville –
After two consecutive years in the Ohio Valley Athletic League and two straight league titles, the Fayetteville-Perry High School varsity football program is ready for their move to the Southern Buckeye Athletic/Academic Conference. This fall will mark the first season in the SBAAC for the Fayetteville-Perry Rockets, as they will compete in the conference’s National Division, also referred to as the SBAAC small school division. Not only will the Rockets face stiffer competition in the SBAAC National Division as compared to what they saw in the OVAL, but it will also make for closer travels for league games.
“It will definitely be a step up for our program,” said fourth-year Fayetteville-Perry High School head football coach, Kevin Finch. “It’s a good league and a good fit for us as far as location.”
As they enter their quest for their first SBAAC National Division title, the Rockets have some big shoes to fill after graduating some key players from last year’s OVAL champion team.
Among the key players lost to graduation is running back Chase Jester, a Southwest Ohio Football Coaches Association All-City Second Team player who totaled over 1,740 yards rushing last season.
This coming fall, Finch holds high expectations for at least three ball carriers that include two seniors and one freshman.
Seniors Seth Allen and Chase Lockwood have been looking good at the running back position in the preseason, according to Finch. Also turning some heads in preseason workouts is Chase Jester’s younger brother, freshman Hunter Jester, who is looking to make an impressive varsity debut.
Also on the return for the Rockets for his senior season is Clay Davis, who should also see some significant time in the backfield, while Luke Wiederhold returns for his senior season as the starting quarterback.
This year’s Rockets will also be looking to fill some big shoes on the offensive line with the loss of some outstanding senior leaders from last year’s team that include Tay Call and Garhett Thompson.
“That is probably our biggest question mark right now – who will step up on the line?” said Finch. “Not only did we lose some great talent on the line (to graduation), but we also lost some great team leaders. We’re looking for people to step up and take on that role.”
In recent years, the Rockets prepared for their move to the SBAAC by including some schools of the SBAAC National Division on their non-league schedules. Last year, the Rockets faced Clermont Northeastern, Bethel-Tate, and Williamsburg (all teams from the SBAAC National Division) while making their way through their regular season schedule.
The Rockets finish last season with a 6-4 overall record as a Division VI, Region 24 team.
The Rockets begin their new season on Aug. 25 with a non-league road game against the Manchester Greyhounds.
The Rockets will begin SBAAC play on Sept. 22 with a home game against the Batavia Bulldogs.