RCTC set for opener
Team returns 10 starters for Kickoff Classic against Northland Friday
By Guy N. Limbeck
Coach Tom Hosier is looking for answers to a few key questions as Rochester Community and Technical College opens its football season on Friday.
The Yellowjackets, 10-2 a year ago, face Northland in Duluth in the annual Kickoff Classic for state junior college teams.
RCTC returns 10 starters from last year's bowl team, but opens with questions at quarterback and running back. Freshmen transfers Patrick Allford (6-foot-2, 205) and Brenden Huewe (6-1, 187) are battling for the quarterback job, and both should see time against Northland.
Quentin Bowen is the top back from a year ago when he was second on the team in rushing. But he is recovering from a hamstring injury and might not play Friday.
"Offensively, we want to try and establish the running game right away," Hosier said.
A year ago the Yellowjackets had little trouble with Northland, outscoring the Thief River Falls squad 108-12 in two games.
"They're a very explosive team," Northland coach Guy Finstrom said. "We can't let them loose for 80-yard touchdowns.
"They're so talented and so fast, you make one mistake and they're gone," he added.
Both coaches said avoiding mistakes will be crucial.
"Usually opening games are based on who makes the fewest mistakes," Hosier said.
Hosier said he was pleased with his recruiting class, which could produce three starters from Rochester. Fullback Brent Hovis, from John Marshall, and offensive linemen Jesse Gentling (Century) and Luke Kimlinger (Mayo) could all be in the starting lineup. Each was all-Big Nine last fall and Hovis was all-state.
Hosier is also excited about his incoming group of receivers to go along with a pair of returning veterans in Ryan Zuberbier and Robert Brox.
"We certainly have more depth at wide receiver than we have had in a long time," Hosier said.
He expects a lot of players to see extended action against Northland.
"I think there will be a lot of rotating until someone establishes themselves," Hosier said.
Other games in the annual kickoff classic include Itasca vs. Fergus Falls at 8 pm. Friday and on Saturday, Vermilion plays Minnesota West at noon followed by Hibbing-Ridgewater at 3:30 p.m. and Mesabi and Central Lakes at 7.
BOX; Rochester vs. Northland
Friday, 4:30 p.m., at Duluth
Records: This is the first game of the season for both teams. RCTC was 10-2 a year ago and Northland was 5-5.
Last meeting: The Yellowjackets beat Northland 45-6 and 63-6 (state playoffs) a year ago.
RCTC notes: The Yellowjackets have 10 starters back from last season. RCTC has qualified for a bowl game in each of the past five years. Coach Tom Hosier had 81 players on his roster at the start of the season.
Northland notes: Coach Guy Finstrom has nine starters back from a year ago. Offensive tackle Matt Meyers (6-8, 387) is a first-team preseason All-American. Quarterback Justin Skjerben was a part-time starter a year ago and threw for about 600 yards.
Other games: In the MCCC Kickoff Classic, Itasca plays Fergus Falls at 8 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, Vermilion meets Minnesota West at noon, Hibbing plays Ridgewater at 3:30 and Mesabi takes on Central Lakes at 7 p.m.
Radio: KWEB-AM (1270, Rochester).