Every great passing attack has a guy who's willing to make the catches across the middle. For Rock Falls, Austin Babcock is that guy.
Through the Rockets first six games, Babcock has hauled in 30 receptions for 363 yards and two touchdowns.
He and teammates Steven Armoska and Alex Leaf have been among the area's receiving leaders all season.
Babcock's role is to be the tough guy of the receiving corps.
"They call me the middle guy," the 6-foot, 170-pound senior split end said. "That's my cup of tea."
Life in the middle of the field can be a bitter cup of tea, however, but Babcock doesn't mind.
"Contact's my thing," he said. "I've taken a couple pretty good shots, but I dish 'em back once in a while. I've got a crazy mentality. You can't be timid."
"He's our vocal leader," Rockets coach Jay Mammosser said. "He keeps things loose. He's a little nuts too. When you find that guy that's a little crazy, you use him, and he's done a great job."
With all the weapons Rock Falls has, at times there aren't enough football to go around.
"I wish we had three quarterbacks on the field," Babcock said. "But, we're getting it done. The ball gets spread across the field pretty nice. We've got three receivers with 30 receptions. That's dishing it out."
Babcock has all the tools a coach looks for in a receiver.
"He's got very good hands. He's fast. He runs great routes," Mammosser said. "He's probably one of the most football savvy guys we have."
Babcock's hands are so good that at times it actually gets him in trouble with his coach.
"Between him and Steven, I have to yell at them every day to stop catching the ball with one hand," Mammosser said.
With teams having to worry about Rock Falls' numerous weapons, opportunities abound.
"Everyone gets a mismatch at least once every four downs," Babcock said. "It takes the pressure off myself."
The attention Armoska typically draws especially benefits Babcock.
"That leaves the middle wide open," he said. "That works for me."
Babcock, also a defensive back, doesn't play much on that side of the ball anymore. He would not relish trying to defend a team like the Rockets.
"It's kind of like watching the Oregon Ducks' offense on TV," Babcock said. "It's dangerous. I don't wish that on anyone. That's the defense's nightmare."
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Mendota High School
Radio: 1240 AM
Twitter: Follow Larry Brennan (@LarryBrennan) for live updates