Thursday, August 27, 2015

What can you say...

...about a football program that has won the last five -- yes, five! -- consecutive 4A state championships?

The Rochester Rockets, coached by Derek Leonard, have gone a dizzying 76-7 over the last six seasons:

2014: 12-2
2013: 13-1
2012: 13-1
2011: 12-2
2010: 14-0
2009: 12-1

(That lone defeat in 2009 was by only one point, 41-40, against Metamora in the semifinals. The Redbirds then went on to beat Geneseo in the 4A final, 41-7.)

Is this guy the best coach in Illinois?

The Rockets will open the 2015 season tomorrow night at Decatur Eisenhower, a team that went 2-7 last year. 

Here's their full schedule:

August 28: @ Decatur Eisenhower

September 4: Springfield
September 11: @ Lanphier
September 18: @ Glenwood
September 25: Springfield Southeast

October 2: @ Lincoln
October 9: @ Jacksonville
October 16: MacArthur
October 23: Sacred Heart-Griffin

While Glenwood (7-4 last year) should be the Rockets' first big test of the year, the finale against Sacred Heart-Griffin may be worth the drive down to Springfield. The Cyclones, coached by Leonard's father, Ken, were the undefeated (14-0) 5A champs last year. SH-G also handed Rochester one of its only two losses in 2014, a lopsided 56-13 drubbing in Week Nine. You don't suppose the son would like to get even with his father, do you? (Read this for a little more color on the two coaches.)

Will Rochester be back in the 4A final again this year?

I asked Coach Leonard for a scouting report and his was brief and understated:

Quarterback Dan Zeigler and Coach Leonard.
We lose 18 out of 22 starters, and we only have 12 seniors this year. So we are going to be very young. We have our quarterback coming back, so that is always a good thing. And both corners are back; other than that, we are going to be very young and inexperienced.

That's it -- from the loquacious (Loyola) to the laconic.

See you in DeKalb, coach.

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