After starting his high school football career as a fullback and linebacker, Rocky Schoenfelder transitioned to defensive end at the start of his junior season. It turned into a perfect marriage.
With his cat-like quickness off the edge, Schoenfelder compiled 27 tackles for loss and an Iowa Class 4A-best 15.5 sacks. He was named the co-defensive player of the year in District 5 and first team all-state by the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.
In two seasons, Schoenfelder accumulated 24 quarterback sacks to tie Chris Lensing for the all-time mark at Bettendorf.
"That is really cool," Schoenfelder said. "There are a lot of great guys in the past of Bettendorf football. Knowing I compare with them is a good thing."
Schoenfelder finished the season with 64 tackles, second on the team.
"This year I had a lot more confidence being a senior," he said. "When I moved to (defensive end), I really didn't know how I would do. I just kept working hard, having fun and it turned out to be a good move."
Bettendorf was ranked among the top five in 4A throughout the season. It faced little resistance in getting through its district unscathed, and then beat Pleasant Valley and Iowa City West in the postseason.
The 10-win season ended with a four-overtime loss to West Des Moines Dowling in the semifinals at the UNI-Dome.
"We had a pretty good season, but we didn't finish our goal," Schoenfelder said. "We train to win state, not to just get to the Dome."
Schoenfelder was a handful for opposing teams all season. He recorded 2 1/2 sacks in the Dowling game. Coach Tom Wilson admitted the Maroons ran away from Schoenfelder in the second half because they had no answer for him.
"That's pretty cool (to have that respect), but it isn't as fun either," Schoenfelder said.
Schoenfelder had two older siblings play for the Bulldogs -- Mac (graduated in 2015) and Tucker (2017). Growing up, those three along with a neighborhood friend, would play two-on-two football in the backyard.
"We played all the time," Schoenfelder said. "They were pretty physical games. We got into it."
It toughened Schoenfelder up. He played linebacker at just 142 pounds as a freshman, but he made significant gains in the weight room between his sophomore and junior seasons and then again last offseason.
He was around 200 pounds this fall.
"The weight room really beefed me up," he said, "and the team bonding built a lot of good friendships."
Bettendorf, in fact, would lift before home games this season. It usually consisted of three explosive lifts and box jumps.
"I loved it," Schoenfelder said. "It got us all amped up, had the music blaring. It got us ready."
At one point this fall, Schoenfelder said he was uncertain if football was in the equation beyond high school. Earlier this week, Schoenfelder said he expects to be playing somewhere next fall.
He has heard from Division II Missouri Western along with several American Rivers Conference programs like Loras and Wartburg.
"It is just finding the right fit," he said. "I'm not concerned (about the level). It is just football, and it's a fun game."
Schoenfelder has thrived as a rush end, but Bettendorf coach Aaron Wiley anticipates his all-stater to move back to linebacker in college.
"He's one of the toughest kids we've had come through our program," Wiley said.
-- Matt Coss