Fall Preview 2022: Rolla Football

By Jordan Burton (for OzarksSportsZone.com)

Jon Franks is entering his seventh season at Rolla, where he has quietly transformed the program into one of the Ozark Conference’s senior schools, winning 2017 district championship seasons in four of the last five years.

The Bulldogs have done it in a variety of ways, initially it was a big offense while lately it’s been a stingy defense.

That will continue to be the case as Rolla brings back 11 starters from last year’s 7-4 roster, eight of whom are on the defensive side of the ball.

“We definitely felt that our defense played a big role during the season,” said Franks. “Coach Sneed has a multiple defense that has the flexibility to respond to the OC attacking football schedule, which varies from week to week.”

Brock Horton-Owens (6-1, 315) wants to lead the defense from the heart of the trenches. Horton-Owens finished his junior season with 40 tackles and 10 tackles for loss, plus 12 QB rushes.

“Brock has a lot of good football qualities; Size, strength, speed, good hands, good motor skills and knowledge of football,” said Franks. “Brock can handle an initial surge and handle double teams to keep linebackers clear. He can also play from behind. He has a good pass rush for a big man.”

All-OC Seniors Gabe Sutton (5-10, 220) and Hayden Crider (6-0, 215) also return to the defensive line. Broc Lyle – who was a defensive back and running back at the All-Ozark Conference – is also back.

Rolla will have one of the most talented offensive lines in the Ozarks, with Lyle covering up back-end mistakes while also seeing a bigger role on offense by switching to quarterback.

“Hayden and Gabe are great football players; They both have the ability to completely take over a game,” Franks said. “We as employees believe this may be one, if not the best line of defense we have had to date.

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“Broc is a very dynamic and explosive athlete who can change a game quickly,” Franks said. “He played quarterback as a freshman and now he will return to that role to fill the void.”

Aaron Cook gives the Bulldogs an experienced cornerback with a high IQ. Junior Brett Montgomery and sophomore Trustin Richards will look to impress with their speed as linebackers.

Franks is also excited to see juniors Robert Smith and Demarii Williams develop on the offensive line. Sophomore Nash Crouch will see the end of the day.

Junior Steve Harris is a candidate for a breakout season after his second campaign was cut short by injuries.

Last year, two of Rolla’s four losses came from possession at Glendale. The other two came en route to Class 6 Kickapoo and the state graded West Plains. Rolla beat Bolivar on the road, upsetting Lebanon and Camdenton for consecutive weeks.

This program is on the rise and the next step is to make a push for a conference championship.

“To fight for an OC title, we have to stay healthy and quickly become a cohesive unit on offense,” said Franks.

Rolla will host Waynesville, Union and Capital City in a jamboree on August 19 before hosting Camdenton on August 26 to open the 2022 regular season.

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