TOLONO (WCIA) — German foreign exchange student and current Unity football player Oscar Bollt has always had an affinity for playing defense.

“I’d really like to hit somebody than get hit, it’s really rather simple,” Bollt said.

A strong safety playing American Football in his native Germany, Bollt is spending a year in the United States as one of the Rockets’ inside linebackers.

“The first question I asked was the obvious one, ‘What football are you playing?'” Unity head coach Scott Hamilton said. “I asked, ‘When do you want to start?’ And he said, ‘Right now.’ So we’ve been on the fly ever since then.”

Bollt is far from a beginner, the 16-year old has played for years in Hamburg, but is still learning the ropes of Unity’s defense. It’s a unit that could use a jolt from Bollt. After leading the Illini Prairie Conference in scoring defense last season allowing just 12 points per game, the Rockets are looking to reload on that side of the ball this season.

“We played a lot of sophomores during that COVID season, and those guys played all the way through to last year,” Hamilton said about his defense.

“The defense, we lost a lot,” Unity senior safety Dalton O’Neill said. “It’s been a challenge to fit guys in and it’s a lot of positions that aren’t set yet.”

And there won’t be much time to figure it out, with defending IPC champs Prairie Central coming to town in the Week 1 Friday Football Fever Spotlight Game of the Week. The Hawks were the only Rockets’ only regular season loss last fall, before Unity returned the favor in the quarterfinals.

“To me this game means a lot, and if we can beat them, it really was a fluke last year,” Unity senior tackle Zach Renfrow said.

“I think they’re the toughest competition in the conference. If we set off on the right foot I think we’ll be good for the rest of the season,” O’Neill added.

If new faces, whether from Central Illinois or Europe, can continue producing, the Rockets are excited about what 2023 can bring.

“They’re really good here,” Bollt said. “I’m just happy when I hit the field.”