With a very nontraditional 2020 football season, the Underwood Rockets entered a new unknown. After a successful coaching career, former head coach Chuck Ross hung up his whistle after the 2019 season.
In his final year at the helm, the Rockets moved from a nine-man football team to playing the 11-man game. While several expected hiccups, the team continued its dominance of recent years as they won Section 6A and advanced to the state playoffs.
This season, new head coach Ryan Hendrickson has already started the year on a positive note as the Rockets defeated the Lake Park-Audubon Raiders 38-6 on Friday, Oct. 9. The coach believes that this is just a part of the fruits of the teams offseason work.
“We have worked very hard to gain experience through offseason work,” Hendrickson said. “ We look forward for that hard work to pay off and earn another shot at a top spot in the district.”
It was an impressive start for a team that needed to replace 11 seniors and nine starters from their successful 2019 roster. The Rockets looked to a trio of seniors in Reed Leabo, Krosby Aasness and Slade Moore to provide stability both offensively and defensively, while looking to Joey Kupfer and Hunter Haugen to lead in the trenches.
While the start of the season has been positive, Hendrickson knows that it won’t be easy. “Both our section and conference will be very competitive. The Northwest (South) District returns a very tough Pelican Rapids team. The Rockets beat Pelican in a shootout last season 46-44, and now Pelican returns all of their starting lineup. Pelican is a very dynamic team that can put up a lot of points in a hurry.
“6A hosts several knock-out teams. Walker, Breck, Mills, Otter Tail Central will all be very competitive this year,” Hendrickson said.
Hendrickson will be assisted by Brian Hovland (defensive coordinator), Casey Foertsch (linemen and JV), Jason Rogers (junior high) and Evan Meece (junior high).