ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The biggest change this year for the Rockford Christian Royal Lions is the coaching staff. There’s been almost a complete turnover in it starting with first-year head coach Terry Gulley. He was the defensive coordinator at Rockford Christian a few years ago. He replaces Brett Frederick.
“I’m really enjoying it,” said Gulley. “Right now, things are going great.”
The other major change is the Royal Lions are back in the Big Northern Conference in football. Last spring, they played NUIC teams. In 2019 they played in the Northeastern Athletic Conference.
“We’re excited about it,” said Camden Rosche. “We’re, it’s going to be a challenge, but we’re going to be, we’re very excited. We’re putting in all the work.”
The last couple years the Royal Lions had a prolific spread offense led by quarterback Caden Norquist and receivers Isaiah Johnson and Zach Joiner. They’ve all graduated, but the spread offense and the passing-mentality will stay.
“We’re going to have to stick with that same passing attack,” said Gulley. “Like I said, we’re not very big, so we’re not going to be able to push a lot of people around, so we’re going to air-it-out and spread teams out.”
Sophomores Drew Steffen and Keon Leach are the quarterback candidates.
“I’m very versatile,” said quarterback Keon Leach. “I can get the pass on the run. I can pass pretty deep. I can move and I’m pretty good for my size.”
Rosche and Hunter Lapp will be the running backs. 6’4 senior Nolan Longley and junior Bjorn Carlson will be the main receivers. Landon Hermanson will be one of the Royal Lions key linemen. along with Nick Young and Delaney Tucker.
The Royals Lions will need to stay healthy. There are only 25 players in the program freshmen through seniors, and there are only five seniors on the team. The freshmen will have to be fast learners to contribute.
“We’re really surprised with what we’re getting out of our freshmen because in junior high there was no tackle football,” said Gulley. “Here it was flag. So we thought we’d lose some kids when we started hitting, but they’ve been the biggest surprise.”