STOCKTON, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Stockton high school has one of the winningest football programs in Illinois state history. The Blackhawks plan to add significantly to their total this season
While many small schools have seen their numbers decline, Stockton is holding steady. The Blackhawks have 45 players out freshmen through seniors. They all want to put on that Stockton jersey that has so much tradition behind it.
Last season the Indians finished with a 7-3 record. This season they’ll rely on some experienced line play as their foundation.
“Everyone’s back this year except for one position, so we have pretty good experience,” says offensive tackle Cody Schultz.
Schultz brings the most size to the line. He’s 6’5 290 pounds. First-team all-conference defensive lineman Drew McGovern also returns.
Senior quarterback Garrett Buske is also back.
“He’s had a good summer,” says head coach Jesse Snyder of his quarterback. “He’s done really well with some things that we’ve thrown at him this summer. He’s reading things really well.”
But Stockton is a team that wants to run the ball. The Blackhawks graduated Colin Dvorak the NUIC’s second leading rusher last season with more than 1600 yards. They also graduated Chase Rowe. He gained almost 500 yards.
“It’s tough to replace two guys like that that gave their heart and soul to the program for four years,” says Snyder. “We’ve got some young guys coming up that I think are going to surprise some people in the backfield.”
Three juniors Jason Hermann, Hunter Hille and Andrew Haas will carry the football.
“I think we’ll have our own thing this year,” says Hermann. “I think it’s going to be a lot more spread out throughout the backfield, and not so much one runningback oriented.”
With the exception of the linemen, Stockton will be young on defense.
“We did graduate both of our inside linebackers, so we’ve got two inside backers, two new inside backers,” says Snyder. “Up front we’ve just got to make sure we’re physical. We need to play fast.”