The 2011 season ended for the Richmond-Burton Rockets in one of the most exciting state championship games in Illinois high school football history as Richmond rallied from 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter of the Illinois High School Association Class 4A title game against Rochester High School to pull within 42-39 but couldn’t tie or take the lead in losing the game. This week, the Rockets began a new journey in trying to get back to that game once again in 2012. R-B was on a 12-game winning streak coming into the title game last season after losing their opener to Oregon High School before making it all the way to the title game for the first time in 20 years. It’s not going to be easy to return in 2012 with Richmond having to replace 19 of their 22 starters from a year ago but coach Pat Elder said that he has had to replace a lot of starters in recent years.
“We’ve been really senior-heavy the last four years so our kids are used to that,” Elder said. “It’s a little smaller senior group than what we’ve had but we do have 37 juniors and seniors combined but what our numbers, I think that will help us. We’ve replaced 19, 17 and 18 (seniors) over the last three years in starters so I think our kids understand that.”
Elder added that a return to the state title game is not something he is thinking about at this point.
“If anything last year and the last few years have told us is that how hard it is to get there,” Elder said. “That’s a long ways off right now. Our goals right now are that we have a lot of new faces and making people know where they are going and making sure we are putting ourselves in position for a conference championship again.”
R-B will return two key pieces from last season’s team in Matt Malecki and Adam Kinsella, who started all 14 games for the Rockets last season and Kinsella said that the team is starting to round into form in the weeks leading up to the season opener on Aug. 24.
“We just got to pick up from what we did,” Kinsella said. “We are looking pretty good and the energy is coming back.”
Richmond opens the 2012 season Aug. 24 at home against Roosevelt High School from Chicago.