The 2023 Rockhurst Hawklets Football Team

Will this be Rockhurst’s comeback season?

Rockhurst has two impressive wins to start the season and has looked good on offense and defense.

  • Rockhurst Hawklets
  • Class 6, District 7
  • Last season: 5-5

By Max Goodwin

The Hawklets lost 49-42 against Park Hill in the first round of the Class 6 state tournament in 2022. It was a disappointing end to an inconsistent season. Park Hill was just 2-7 entering the playoffs.

Rockhurst started the season with a 1-4 record against a difficult schedule early on. Then won four in a row leading into the playoffs as the matchups became easier in the second half of the season. But Park Hill’s offense was too much for Rockhurst.

Coach Kelly Donohoe

Coach: It’s hard to believe that Kelly Donohoe is already in his fourth season as head coach of the Hawklets. Rockhurst’s expectation is always to compete for a state championship, which hasn’t been the case so far during Donohoe’s time leading the Hawklets. 

The seniors this season were freshmen when Donohoe was hired. There seems to be enough talent on this year’s team to move away from .500 seasons and back toward being recognized each year as one of the best in the area. 

“Things will never change at Rockhurst. We expect to be one of the best teams in the state of Missouri, but our kids know that’s a process week to week,” Donohoe said. 


Coach Kelly Donohoe and Rockhurst team captains step on field at the August 25 game against Ray-Pec. Photo courtesy Rockhurst High School

Players to watch: Quarterback Ethan Hansen (Senior), offensive tackle Andrew Sprague (Senior), linebacker Thomas Coppinger (Senior)

Senior offensive tackle Andrew Sprague, at 6 ‘8 and 270 pounds, is the fourth-ranked recruit in the state by ESPN and 18th in the nation at his position. He’s decided to play at the University of Michigan next season. Sprague’s size alone is enough to win blocking assignments every play at the high school level. 

For the past three years, Donohoe has been urging senior quarterback Ethan Hansen to trust his legs as a quarterback. He’s faster than he thinks, Donohoe says. Hansen did that against Ray-Pec, tucking the ball for a quarterback draw and running for a 72-yard touchdown. 

Hansen started nine games as quarterback last season, throwing for 966 yards and nine touchdowns. Against Ray-Pec, Hansen ran the ball 12 times for 110 yards with two touchdowns, almost a third of his rushing yards for last season.

Senior linebacker Thomas Coppinger is the defensive leader and made the play of the game against Ray-Pec with a first-half interception that led to a touchdown.

2023 season outlook: This year’s seniors were freshmen when Kelly Donohoe first became coach at Rockhurst High School.

During their time at Rockhurst, the Hawklets are 14-14. It’s not the dominance Rockhurst once enjoyed before Tony Severino retired, but there are signs of that success re-emerging this year.

It all starts with the offensive line. Rockhurst’s strength is running the ball behind that sturdy offensive line. In the first game of the season, against Ray-Pec, quarterback Ethan Hanson and running back Aidan Ryan each ran for two touchdowns. “The kids up front are good,” Donohoe said of his offensive line. “They’re big, strong kids. We’re gonna lean on them all year.”

Rockhurst can unleash big plays in the passing game with returning quarterback Hansen and senior wide receiver Myles Carson. But they didn’t need to against a Ray-Pec defense that allowed them to gain yards on the ground. 

“We think we’re a pretty good dual-threat team, but tonight we leaned a lot more on the run,” Donohoe said.

The next five games on the Hawklets schedule will show how good this Rockhurst team will be. Those games include matchups against Blue Springs South, Bishop Miege, and St. Thomas Aquinas.

Rockhurst shut out Ray-Pec 31-1 in their first game this season. Photo courtesy Rockhurst High School

First two games: Rockhurst has two impressive wins to start the season and has looked good on offense and defense. The Hawklets have shut out Ray-Pec at home and hung 47 points against Blue Springs South on the road.

Tonight, Rockhurst hosts one of the top teams in the metro area against Liberty North. This should be one of the year’s best games and will test how good the Hawklets can be this season.

Live streams of Rockhurst games can be found on the Rockhurst High School Athletics page.

Date   –   Opponent (2022 record)    –   Result/time

Aug. 25      Raymore-Peculiar (6-5)                 W, 31-0

Sept. 1         at Blue Springs South (7-4)                   W, 47-10

Sept. 8       Liberty North (12-1)                        7 p.m.

Sept. 15        at Bentonville (Ark.) ()                          7 p.m.

Sept. 23      Bishop Miege (11-2)                       7 p.m.

Sept. 29        at St. Thomas Aquinas (9-3)               7 p.m.

Oct. 6           at Blue Springs (3-7)                             7 p.m.

Oct. 13        St. Louis University (3-7)            6 p.m.

Oct. 20        at Okla. City Patriots Homeschool (1-11)    6 p.m.

Oct. 27         Class 6 State Tournament


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