Football: Schlenbecker headlines returning senior linemen

Rising senior Michael Schlenbecker will be one of the most experienced players on both the offensive and defensive line when the Rochelle football team takes the field this fall. (Photo by Marcy DeLille)

Third-year varsity player looking to lead by example, motivate teammates

Rising senior Michael Schlenbecker wasn’t thrilled with his performance on the gridiron this past season, but the third-year varsity lineman has one goal on his mind for this fall, and that’s to be one of the best players on the field each time he and his Rochelle teammates suit up for game action.

A three-sport athlete at RTHS, Schlenbecker became the starting right tackle for the Hubs early in his sophomore season, and he returned this past fall as a two-way starter in the trenches. Schlenbecker played in all nine games during the 2019 season, finishing with 1.5 sacks on defense, and he'll be a key playmaker on both sides of the football when the 2020 campaign kicks off.

“I felt like I underperformed during my junior season due to my body transformation,” Schlenbecker said. “I felt like I showed great leadership last season and I did a good job of motivating our team. I’m looking to become a better leader this year and improve my skills on both sides of the line… My goals are to make the All-Conference team and help our team win games. To be successful, I’m going to not only focus on myself, but push others as well.”

Schlenbecker will be one of three starters returning on both the offensive line and the defensive line this fall. The Hubs carried only eight seniors on the varsity roster in 2019, but the 2020 roster will feature far more experience, something Schlenbecker said will be a strength of the Rochelle team when the Hubs kick off their season against the Pekin Dragons next month.

“I felt like we underperformed as a team last year because we had a low number of seniors,” Schlenbecker said. “But we had a lot of talent on that team, and we have a great group of seniors this year who have been together since Rochelle Junior Tackle in fifth grade. Our juniors and sophomores are also extremely talented, and we’re a team that knows how to work hard. We’ve done that this offseason, and our goal for this season is to make the playoffs and go far. We were relentless last season, and I think we can motivate each other more this season.”

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