At Rockledge High, the more some things change, the more others stay the same.
Remaining unchanged is Rockledge’s tough, aggressive defense, one that Raiders head coach Larry Laskowski hopes is bolstered by a good amount of experience returning.
“We’ve got some young kids that grew up last year by playing varsity ball as 10th graders, so we’re going to be a junior-dominated sort of a team with some pretty good experience on that side but they’re going to be well coached and I’m thinking we’re going out there to be a pretty good football team,” Laskowski said.
While the Raiders will still rely on the run offensively, how they’ll do it looks to dramatically change as the team shifts from an attack primarily based out of the Wing-T to more of an up-tempo look featuring the Pistol and spread formations.
“We’re a new zone-read offense and we’ve got some senior lines on there. We’re all bulking up, getting pretty strong so, hopefully, we’ll be able to move some people around,” Laskowski said.
They’ll have a new quarterback as the coach’s son, Michael Laskowski, a standout on the defensive side of the ball last season, takes over for the departed Trace Woxberg.
Rockledge also will hope to change more than its offense from 2013 — it’ll look to switch up how it begins its season. Last year, the Raiders dropped their first four contests against teams that would all go on to have successful seasons in Viera, Bayside, Heritage and Palm Bay. Rockledge will look to change that as those are the Raiders’ same four opponents to begin 2014.
“We’ve got a lot of teams that beat us early in the season,” Laskowski said.
One thing Rockledge won’t have on its side is a lot of depth.
But Laskowski does note that the team has jelled exceptionally well in the offseason and genuinely seems to like each other.
“They developed a great respect for each other and I think that’s going to be important in terms of team chemistry,” Laskowski said. “This team’s going to be real close. They like each other.”
Some of the players who could lead the team include seniors such as Laskowski, running back Letwan Sutton, center C.J. Williams, guards Hunter Lucier and John Hennes, and defensive backs J’Lon Thrist and Jelaune Middleton, the latter of whom will play both ways.
“We’ve got a smaller senior class this year but they’re kids that have hung in here and they’re leaders.”
And despite some losses to graduation and other avenues, the Raiders are clearly focused on returning to the postseason after coming close but missing out a year ago.
“Here’s your first goal: get in the playoffs because that’s what we’ve lived for here in the past,” added Laskowski. “Most recently, we haven’t lived that well for it.”
Meet the player
Sr., OG, 6-0, 220 pounds
Best movie: “22 Jump Street”
Dream job: Engineer
Teammate he’d most like to trade places with: Michael Laskowski
Favorite pro sports team: Atlanta Falcons, all the way
Go-to fast food item: Spicy Italian at Subway
2014 Raiders Schedule
Friday Viera 7
Sept. 5 at Bayside 7
Sept. 12 Heritage 7:30
Sept. 19 at Palm Bay 7
Oct. 3 at Astronaut 7
Oct. 10 Treasure Coast 7
Oct. 17 Satellite 7
Oct. 24 at Titusville 7
Oct. 31 Merritt Island 7
Nov. 7 at Cocoa 7
FLORIDA TODAY takes a look at each football team around the county, profiling a different one each day. Tuesday: Melbourne.