Stevie Rocker burst onto the high school football scene last fall in triumphant fashion, tearing through opposing defenses with ease. The Canyon Del Oro running back was a one-man tour de force as a sophomore, finishing the year with 1,163 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
Rocker did most of his damage in the first three games of the year, picking up 173, 225 and 213 rushing yards in the Dorados’ first three games, against Flowing Wells, Apache Junction and Pusch Ridge Christian Academy, respectively.
Rocker battled through an ankle injury for the rest of the year, but still managed to eclipse the 100-yard plateau in four of the Dorados final six games.
His unique combination of speed, size and elusiveness draws comparisons to other Dorado greats, like former University of Arizona and Chicago Bears running back, Ka’Deem Carey.
Carey, who finished his four-year career at CDO with a school-record 5,701 rushing yards, was unable to hit the 1,000-yard plateau as a sophomore in 2008, finishing with 898 yards.
Whether Rocker will be able to one-up Carey’s record-breaking junior season, where the former Dorado finished with 2,738 yards and 43 rushing touchdowns, is to be determined.
Longtime CDO head coach Dustin Peace was around for Carey’s record-breaking career and knows how high a standard the former back left at the Oro Valley program. He also knows how special Rocker is when he has the ball in his hands, and how much damage the young man can do this season if he stays healthy.
“Rocker’s going to be a great asset to us, having that home run opportunity at any time,” Peace said. “He’s already shown a lot of growth, so we all know a lot about him.”
Rocker is confident he’ll be able to continue his sophomore success story in 2019, learning a lot from the highs and lows of last year.
“Last year showed that I could play with people at this level,” Rocker said. “It proved that I can show out for myself. I’m not leaving for other teams to try to play with other people and get championships, or anything like that. I just show out for where I’m at and do what I do.”
That team-first mentality has caught the attention of college recruiters, with Rocker landing scholarship offers to play at the University of Arizona, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Nevada-Reno and Brigham Young University, to date.
Peace, who’s entering his 11th year as the Dorados head coach, knows that Rocker and Carey have their own characteristics, but that they share similar traits.
“It’s still a little early to compare physical skills but there are definitely similarities in how both are highly competitive and confident in their skills, but not cocky,” Peace said. “They were both liked by their teammates, and represent everything we want to see from our athletes.”
For Rocker, receiving college offers is merely the prelude to what’s sure to be a long career in the game he loves. He’s made sure to use the scholarships as fuel, pushing even harder during offseason drills so he can live up to the hype that inevitably follows him.
“It’s pushing me even harder, now it just gives me something to look forward to other than playing the sport,” Rocker said. “It gives me more to look forward to in the future.”
For now, Rocker is using the summer months to improve his conditioning, while taking any notes that he can from his coaches, so he can improve his game this fall.
The rising junior learned a lot from his meteoric sophomore campaign and is ready to put that on-field knowledge to the test this season.
“I learned to not stress it last year,” Rocker said. “My sophomore year, I thought it was going to be a lot harder than it was going to be. But now, I just know not to stress it and just have fun, just play the game.”