ROCKFORD – The Rockford University football team is confident heading into Jim Schroeder’s fourth year as head coach. All the players in the program have grown up through his system, and with some key players returning, Schroeder thinks they can surprise some people.
“We’ve got a great deal of potential,” Schroeder said. “This is one of the first times we have a lot of returners coming back. And a lot of younger guys. We’ll still be a young football team but we have a lot of guys who have a lot of quality experience last year.”
Durand’s Chance Manning comes into his senior year 964 yards from breaking the school’s all-time rushing record. The 5’5″, 145 pound running back knows if he succeeds, there’s a better opportunity for the team to do so.
“I think any of my personal records would also be a goal for the entire team as well,” Manning said. “Without everyone on the team – offense, defense, freshmen, anyone. I wouldn’t be able to get where I want to go.”
His teammates want to help him get his name at the top of the RU record book.
“It’s pretty important,” junior tight end Adam Ambrogio admitted. “I know it’s not only important to Chance, he makes it seem like it’s not, but it is. I think everyone on the team wants to get him that.”
As an often-overlooked running back due to his diminutive stature, Manning uses a fearless mentality, along with his speed and quickness, to fight for extra yards.
“Chance is as tough as nails,” coach Schroeder said. “He’s a heck of a football player. He’s somebody who is a great example to the younger kids and his peers. We’re really fortunate. It’s been a joy to coach him. He’s poised to do some really special things here.”
The Regents have not posted a winning record since 2007, but they think they have the pieces to post a few more in the win column than in previous years.
“I think the most important thing is having a lot of confidence,” sophomore quarterback Eric Mackey, a Marengo native, said. “I think right now we have that. Just the atmosphere compared to last year, you can tell everyone has a general feel of knowing what they’re doing and they have a lot more confidence out there on the field.”
Rockford opens the season at home Saturday at 1 p.m. against MacMurray. The Regents’ first three games of the season are all at home.