ROCHELLE — The march toward Rochelle’s season-opening football game kicked off on Monday, when the Hubs returned to the practice field for the beginning of their one-week summer minicamp for sophomore, junior and senior players.
With roughly three months to prepare for the 2019 season, which starts with a road game against Pekin on Friday, Aug. 30, head coach Kyle Kissack and his staff led team drills during minicamp this week. The camp serves to introduce team concepts to new varsity players while allowing returning players to shake the rust off and get into football shape.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to get back together and reintroduce the fundamentals we talk about,” Kissack said. “It’s a jump-start to our summer, and it’s time we dedicate to teaching our kids the fundamentals of Rochelle football. It’s really important, whether we have a big class of seniors or a lot of underclassmen, to use this week and develop our fundamentals.”
Rochelle finished 5-5 with a trip to the IHSA Class 5A Playoffs in Kissack’s first season as head coach of the program. The Hubs will be seeking to improve upon last year’s results, and despite graduating nearly 20 seniors from the 2018 season, Rochelle’s rising sophomores and juniors are competing for many starting spots around the field.
“We have a lot of young kids who will be playing,” Kissack said. “We really have to be intentional about developing their skills and there’s a lot of language they need to learn. We’ll slow things down and be aware of where they’re at mentally so we can get the most out of their abilities.”
The one-week minicamp will lead into more offseason activities that precede the 2019-20 school year. The Hubs will continue working out through June and July before beginning their two-week padded summer camp, for all four grade levels, from July 22 through Aug. 1. The IHSA allows football teams to begin formal practices on Monday, Aug. 12. Sophomores, juniors and seniors received their equipment on June 3, while freshmen earn theirs July 16 and 18.
“Our summer has a rhythm, and even though we’re out here for minicamp, it still feels like a Monday in the middle of July,” Kissack said. “We have a good rhythm and our kids have a feel for the rhythm of our program. Whether we’re at minicamp or we’re working through the Hub Power program, we have a good tempo going right now.”