Football: Albers eyes single-season sacks record

Rising seniors Ethan Albers (left) and Michael Schlenbecker (right) celebrate a sack against the Ottawa Pirates during Rochelle’s season-finale this past fall. (Photo by Marcy DeLille)

All-Conference defensive end also aiming for 25-win wrestling season

As the Rochelle and Ottawa football teams traded blows during their double-overtime marathon this past fall, rising senior Ethan Albers moved closer and closer to sacking more quarterbacks in one season than any defensive player in program history.

The Hubs outlasted the Pirates 40-34 in the Interstate 8 shootout, with Albers totaling 2.5 sacks along the way to end his junior season with 6.5 sacks. Albers finished 0.5 sacks away from tying the single-season school record, and when the All-Conference First Team defensive end returns to the gridiron this fall, he’ll be aiming to blow past that mark and make history.

“I felt like I had a great junior season,” Albers said. “I’m very excited to see where I’ll improve during my senior season. I want to continue getting faster because I feel I have the strength to become a greater threat on the defensive line… My goal is to break the sacks record my senior season and I’m going to make sure I do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.”

The only junior on the football team to earn First-Team All-Conference honors this past season, Albers will headline Rochelle’s most talented returning players this fall. Albers will also take on a more significant role with the Hub wrestling team in the winter. The former IWCOA Fresh-Soph State Championship qualifier had been slated to be the 220-pound starter during the 2019-20 campaign, but he was sidelined for the entire season due to knee injuries.

“It was very frustrating to miss my junior year of wrestling,” Albers said. “I had goals that I wanted to meet but the injuries pushed those goals back. I’m hoping to get back on the mat next season and wrestle without any worries. I’m motivated to do better in my ground game because I feel confident in my neutral game and my ability to take down my opponents.”

Albers will be one of several rising seniors to watch out for when the Rochelle wrestling team returns to follow up an 18-win season this coming winter. A former Northern Illinois Big 12 Junior Varsity Conference champion, Albers said his goal for next season is to win 25 matches and plant his name on the 25-win board inside the Rochelle wrestling room.

“I want to make it to state and it’s going to take a lot of hard conditioning and discipline to make sure I get better every time I enter the wrestling room,” Albers said.

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