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Roughs look to continue upward trend

Austin Brett didn’t envision the outcome of the Rough Riders’ 36-0 defeat in a district semifinal game at Palisades recently, but the senior and his teammates were appreciative of their status and future.

The Roughies made their first appearance in a district semifinal since 2013.

“This is the farthest the program has gone in a while,” said Brett. “Losing like this isn’t the way that we want to go out.

“We have a young team, and we’re going to be good in the end.”

Unfortunately, Brett’s season is over due to an elbow injury. He had one catch for seven yards against Palisades and led the Roughies’ receivers with 19 catches for 217 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The Roughies’ 2-7 record heading into their annual Thanksgiving Day tussle with Northampton looms larger than the record on the surface.

“Those two wins are big for our team,” added Brett. “Even though we have losses, our stats are there, and all of us kept playing.

“We were underdogs the whole year. We went into Minersville and handed it to them pretty good. Just coming here and having this experience will show the younger kids what they can do.”

Quarterback Nasir McLean can fall under that category. The freshman quarterback had his share of highs and lows this season.

McLean completed four of 12 passes for 38 yards against Palisades, and he had connected on 46 of 99 attempts this season for 612 yards with six touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has rushed for 117 yards with a touchdown.

“We had pluses, and we fought hard and never gave up,” he said. “We all believed in each other.

“As a freshman along with the others and the sophomores, it was an upgrade for us. It will get better.”

Personally, McLean already realizes he has to step it up.

“I know I’m young, but I don’t want to use the term freshman any more,” he said. “This was a learning experience.

“There aren’t too many freshmen who can say that they led a team that was one game away from a district championship. I know I have improved on being a leader, and I know I still have to work on things. My throwing got better, and I still have to work on it.

“It will be fun next year. We have to keep fighting, get back to practice, and get ready for Northampton.”