The Royal Lions are leaving the Big Northern Conference just as they were becoming competitive in it. They were 4-4 last year in conference action and they made the playoffs for the first time since 2010. They believe they can keep the arrow pointing upward as they now join the Northeastern Athletic Conference.
“I certainly believe so,” says head coach Brett Frederick. “We’ve certainly had a tremendous amount of momentum that’s been created the last two years.”
We feel really good about where we’re going in the future.”
There’s a strong senior class at Rockford Christian this year of 13 guys and many of them are three-year starters. One is running back/defensive back Jared Frederick. He’ll share time at running back with power back Connor Cunningham and speed backs Malachi White and Peyton Skeel.
“Everybody is a little bit different,” says Jared Frederick. “We can keep a variety of players on the field, and everybody’s got their own thing they’re best at.”
Those running backs will have three big lineman punching holes in front of them. Junior Sean Hyacinthe goes 280 pounds. Three year starter Elijah Nitz is 6’4 290 and another three-year starter Jaden Ferlita is 6’2 240. He likes the potential of this offense.
“I think as an offense we have a lot of depth and there’s a lot of things we can do, but I think a lot of stuff is going to be quick-hitting and power stuff.”
The one area on offense that’s lacking varsity experience is quarterback. Noah Kellerman was so productive at that spot last season passing for almost 1800 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has graduated. The new quarterback is Nathan Dammann.
“Nathan Dammann is coming along really, really well,” says coach Frederick. “He’s been backing up for the last year years. Nathan understands the offense probably as well as Noah had.
On defense the Royal Lions return their linebacker unit of Cunningham, Skeel and Frederick. The guy providing the energy on the line is senior Josh Drog a three-year starter at defensive end.
“He’s just a very aggressive player,” says Frederick.
The Royal Lions believe they would have been competitive in the Big Northern this year with their experience and talent, but they’re embracing seeing some new opponents in the Northeastern Athletic Conference.
“I’m excited!,” says Ferlita. “I think we can still be real competitive, even more competitive.”
“It’ll be a new experience and I think we can do well in that conference,” says Jared Frederick.