ROCKFORD, Ill. - The Rockford University football team is heading into the 2018 season determined to improve upon a promising 2017 season. Last year the Regents dropped five games by less than a score despite being very young at numerous key positions. This year Rockford returns a large cast of key players, while also bringing in a very talented group of newcomers.
The Regent offense should be extremely deep at the running back position. Leading the way will be 2017 First Team All-NACC selection Chance Manning (Durand, Ill.), who is returning for his final season in a Regent uniform. Manning has a chance to break Rockford's career rushing record as he enters the year with 2,313 yards, which is just 963 yards shy of tying the record. The other two pieces to Rockford's three-headed monster in the backfield are sophomore LaVar Johnson Jr. (Memphis, Tenn.) and junior Brice Spence (Corinth, Miss.). Johnson Jr. led the Regents with six rushing touchdowns as a freshman, while Spence showed flashes of brilliance last year before being hampered by injuries.
"We're fortunate to have a lot of talent at the running back position," stated Head Coach Jim Schroeder. "All three guys are capable of making plays."
Adding to the list of talented offensive returners are sophomore quarterbacks Eric Mackey (Marengo, Ill.) and Delayno Mack (Loves Park, Ill.). Mackey and Mack split time last year and both bring different strengths to the Regent offense. First team All-NACC tight end Adam Ambrogio (Rockford, Ill.) returns for his junior season after bursting on the scene last year. Despite missing three games a year ago, Ambrogio still led the regents in receptions, receiving yards and was tied for the lead in touchdown receptions. The 6-3 225-pound tight end will attempt to once again assert his dominance this season and be an integral part of the Regents' offensive success.
Switching over to the defensive side of the ball, Rockford will rely on a mix of youth and upperclassmen to bring leadership both on and off the field. Senior Jared Johnson (Miami, Fla.) will help anchor the defensive line, as he returns after leading the team in sacks this past season. NACC Honorable Mention defensive back Dylan Peterson (Reynolds, Ill.) is back for his junior season, after showing he had a knack for being around the ball last year when he had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Sophomore's Jallen Bashford (Fairbury, Ill.) and Ja'uan Joiner (Phenix City, Ala.) will look to improve upon a successful season from a year ago. Bashford flew around the field as he led the team in tackles as a freshman, while Joiner should help solidify the Regent defensive backfield.
A newcomer to keep an eye on this season is freshman Octavio Galvez (Loves Park, Ill.). Galvez is a local product who garnered First Team All-Conference honors during his junior and senior seasons in high school. Galvez has been making his presence felt during preseason and hopes to continue that during the regular season.
"We're excited for the season as we are returning a number of players that got a lot of quality experience last year," proclaimed Coach Schroeder. "I think we have the potential to be much better, but we need to continue to improve each week throughout the season to maximize our potential."
The Rockford University football team opens up its season in a non-conference tilt against MacMurray College on Saturday, September 1. Kickoff is set for 1 PM at Sam Greeley Field.