Whats Cooking in Central Illinois?
Derek Leonard and Rocket Coaching Staff
BY Coach Big Pete
In high school football we tend to overuse the term “genius coach” and “legend coach”, when describing coaches successes’. For Derek Leonard and his Rochester Coaching Staff no words can sum up for what they have done. Derek Leonard has 5 State titles in 11 years and without a doubt is future hall of fame coach in the state of Illinois. Derek Leonard has achieved the impossible that have most of Illinois high school football coaches envious. No coach has taken the IHSA Football by storm in such little time like Derek Leonard has with scheme and coaching. “No public school coach has matched what Derek Leonard has done”, -Otto Zeman Westmont Head Coach aka Father of the Five Wide. Derek Leonard with his fast paced schemes has been annihilating defenses, starting with when he was an OC at SHG. Derek Leonard son of HOF Ken Leonard and head coach of Sacred Heart Griffin, at that time Derek was the one who had the idea of speeding scheme up and passing. Which gave us the first look into the Springfield “Shock and Awe Offense”. Which led to his hiring at Rochester as head coach and had the right scheme in mind to make Rochester football into a powerhouse. It’s not just Derek Leonard that makes Rochester special but he has some best football minds in Illinois on his coaching staff. Buecker one of the best defensive coordinators in the state of Illinois, that is match made in heaven with his offense. What I believe makes him different to any other coach is that he has changed the tempo of the game in Illinois High School football forever. One of brilliant things that Derek and his staff does, is they share their schemes and other tips to other coaching staffs around Illinois and other Midwest states. Right now I can count 100 schools that use a sort of mutation of the Rochester scheme and or drills. Mr. Leonard could have hid everything, but instead he and his staff have helped make Illinois High School Football better game. Some of their best coaches have done clinics all over the state and me personally have seen coaches taking notes and videos of the Rocket Coaches speaking. (AND ACTING LIKE ITS THEIR OWN PLAYS, BUT IN REALITY IT CAME FROM ROCHESTER ~cough~ ~cough~). Yes, comparisons with Chip Kelly Oregon fast tempo offense are always said but in truth Rochester offense is whole different beast and with a high school team. As former coach I have seen some teams try and copy Chip Kelly and fail in horrible fashion due. Leonard and his staff, run practices that makes the players faster to the scheme and wiser to the routes and plays. For about 4 times now I have had run-ins with this Legend Derek Leonard and his staff and I can say without a doubt these Springfield Area coaches are making the game better. Not just the Rochester Staff but also the Sacred Heart Griffin Staff too. One of my favorite experiences was with Rochester Coach Nelly, who I believe is one of best HS Offensive line coaches in the state of Illinois. As an assistant o-line coach with another coach, we were told take notes and learn from coach nelly on how to improve blocking. For about 70 minutes we sat down and listened to this man discuss offensive line technique and schemes. In pure shock after we finished, what he said made us rethink our whole philosophy of coaching offensive line. That is just one example of his coaching staff, I could mention their DC or ETC. For me to say Derek Leonard and his Rocket Coaching Staff are good coaches is a complete understatement. What Derek and his coaching staff has done is completely revolutionary in Illinois High School football and in return they has made the game better.
Thank You to Derek Leonard and the Rochester Coaching Staff for making Illinois High School Football better!!!!!!