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Strong Rock football is ready for a playoff run

Photo by Gabriel Stovall / Strong Rock quarterbacks Jesse Adams (left) and Ryan Butterfield look to be multifaceted players for the playoff-hopeful Patriots.

Photo by Gabriel Stovall / Strong Rock quarterbacks Jesse Adams (left) and Ryan Butterfield look to be multifaceted players for the playoff-hopeful Patriots.

LOCUST GROVE — Strong Rock football coach Mark Miller said that summer workouts have been at about a 90 percent participation rate.

“I think that’s fantastic for us,” Miller said. “Now, whether or not that means more wins than losses this season, we’ve yet to find out.”

What it does mean, however, is that the Patriots feel strong and healthy going into the home stretch of summer conditioning and workouts.

And Miller is happy that one multifaceted player in Jesse Adams is among the 90 percent.

The three-year starter at linebacker is also arguably Strong Rock’s best option at quarterback when the Patriots operate out of the option.

Adams started at quarterback for the Patriots last year until he went down for the season with injuries to his left arm.

“I just had a whole bunch of injuries,” Adams said. “My entire left arm was just in bad shape. And I felt limited with how I could move it around.”

But Adams said the arm is now “100 percent” healthy, and he’s ready to get out and make up for some lost moments in 2012.

“I’m just excited to get back out here and help out the team,” Adams said. “I feel like we’re going to have a good year this year.”

If there was a positive in the Patriots losing Adams, it could be found in the development of fellow quarterback Ryan Butterfield. The rising junior, who also plays safety and handles punting and kicking duties, has emerged as a viable offensive weapon as well.

Miller said that Butterfield may be the better passer between the two, but given the nature of the option offense, and the punishment quarterbacks can take, having two viable options at quarterback is more of a compliment for Miller than a competition.

“Jesse and Ryan, both of those guys are extremely smart and extremely tough as quarterbacks,” Miller said. “They have to be because they’re just like another running back out there.”

The Patriots started out hot in 2012, winning their first two games by a combined score of 52-12 before dropping six of their last seven on the way to a 4-6 finish.

Two of those losses were to Class A powers Landmark Christian and state-champion Eagle’s Landing Christian. Both of those teams will show up again on the Strong Rock schedule, but Adams believes that his team has a better chance of making a better showing with another year of experience under their belts.

“We want to at least be .500 this year, but we really want to make it to the playoffs for our first time,” Adams said. “I think we can. I know you’ve got ELCA and you’ve got Landmark and teams like that, but I truly believe that with what we have we can win some of these games and get in the postseason.”