Former Rochelle football player and All-Conference honoree Greg Ricketts described his first season with the Central College program as chaotic, but in a very good way.
Ricketts and the Dutch enjoyed a successful 2019 campaign, finishing 10-2 overall and winning the American Rivers Conference Championship. Central College reached the second round of the NCAA Division III Championship, upsetting Wisconsin-Oshkosh in a thrilling 38-37 overtime affair before falling against third-ranked Wheaton College.
The regular season included a 57-56 overtime upset over seventh-ranked Wartburg College, where both teams combined for 16 touchdowns and over 1,200 yards. Ricketts said both overtime victories have been some of the most memorable moments of his football career.
“Our games against Wartburg and Oshkosh were by far the two craziest games I’ve ever been a part of,” Ricketts said. “We ended up with a conference championship and a playoff berth, but the journey along the way was crazy… My football knowledge is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was in high school. We put so much time into our meetings and our scouting, and as a result, I’ve approached playing defense much differently than I did in high school.”
Ricketts played a defensive scout team role with the Dutch this season. The former Hub linebacker said he hopes to earn a role with the varsity team next season, whether it’s on defense or special teams. He said the biggest adjustments he’s had to make since graduating high school have been in preparation and training camp.
“I had a lot of good players ahead of me this season and I learned a lot from them,” Ricketts said. “My goal right now is to get better every day through my diet, my actions and my workouts. As far as how the season went, I loved the togetherness of the program. We eat, sleep, work out and go to classes together, and the actions of one player is always reflected on the rest of us. It’s just really cool to be a part of this program.”
Central College will kick off the 2020 season at home against Hastings College on Sept. 5. Ricketts said his biggest areas of improvement this season included his physicality and using his hands. He also said he wants to continue working on his tackling.
“I feel that I was able to adjust to the college game fairly well, but there were definitely some changes,” Ricketts said. “Camp is the best example in that we’d wake up around 6 a.m. and work until 11 a.m. The amount of time we put into practicing and scouting is far different than what we did in high school… As far as improving in the future, my tackling can always get better and I need to focus on that because I’m useless if I’m in the right spot, but can’t make the tackle, so I plan to keep working on that in order to become a consistent and solid tackler.”