STOCKTON, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — While last year was technically year one for Stockton head football coach Matt Leitzen, he’s using this full season to build upon what they had to learn on the fly in 2020.
“With last year being the first year, not just for me but these kids, we felt like we weren’t starting at zero this year,” said Leitzen. “We picked up on some stuff that we did at the end of the year and kind of used that as a spring board for this week of practice.”
Leitzen has re-joined his Alma Mater where he played on John O’Boyle’s 1994 team that went all the way to the State semifinals.
“… Stockton football has a proud history …,” he said. “No one will ever be able to fill the shoes of the guys that came before me, but I just hope to pick up from what I remember and what I was taught when I was here and try to bring that back to these guys. I’m hoping we’re going to be able to build on it and it’s going to start here in a couple of weeks.”
This will be a relatively a young Stockton team, but their experience comes up front in the trenches.
“We bring back some nice pieces on the offensive line,” said Leitzen. “We’re young in a lot of spots but that’s one spot where I think our experience should help us. If they can pave the way, literally pave the way, we’re going to be fine in other spots.”
One of those leading the charge is two-way lineman Jamie Stocks who was a second team all-conference selection last year.
“Hopefully make a lot of big plays, make sure everybody knows what they’re doing, just be there and be a good captain,” said Stocks.
Him and his fellow lineman will be protecting senior quarterback Caleb Mammoser who hopes to take a step forward this season in his passing abilities.
“Throwing the ball more,” said Mammoser. “We’ve got a couple of receivers this year that are going to be pretty good. Got a good line to block for me.”
The Nothwest Upstate Illini conference will look a bit different this year, with the addition and subtraction of a few schools. For Coach Leitzen and his boys, it just makes it all that much more fun.
“If you’re playing in the NUIC and hope to be successful you’re going to have to be physical,” said Leitzen. “… You know every single week when you go in to prepare for that opponent you can’t take any days off. I like that, I think our kids like that challenge as well.”