Listen to this article

High school football certainly is an intense sport. Spectators most easily can see that among the players on the field as they knock into one another with the goals of scoring points and preventing the opposition from scoring.

Fans also can witness this intensity along the sidelines, where coaches frequently are shouting instruction, encouragement or frustration throughout the course of a game.

The emotional moments will only increase during the next month with the playoffs back on the calendar for the first time since the 2019 season.

But presumably every coach has a softer side as well.

Especially if you can get one to reminisce about days gone by.

While athletes only reside in the high school ranks for four seasons, coaches can oversee a program for decades.

Monticello coach Cully Welter is still in the singular decade territory for now, currently in his 13th season leading the Sages. Even so, that has led to 14 matchups against Scott Hamilton‘s Unity squad, with No. 15 happening on Friday night in Piatt County.

“As we get older, because I think we’re the same age ... you do become more friend-like,” Welter said during an appearance on the “Servpro Prep Football Confidential” radio show on Wednesday. “Obviously we want to beat them and they want to beat us, but I think when you’ve been doing it this long you have a general respect and gratitude for competing against one another.”

Hamilton is in his 28th year directing the Rockets, who are seeking their sixth IHSA state championship game appearance — and first victory — in Hamilton’s tenure.

Unity’s last state championship game came in 2015, when the Rockets reached the Class 3A final against Bishop McNamara. Current Arcola coach Nick Lindsey was an assistant on that team.

“More than anything, Scott was so cerebral about the game,” said Lindsey, who has the Purple Riders qualified for their fourth postseason in his five years at the helm. “The biggest thing I took going into a program like Unity, you expect practices to be tackling to the ground all the time and intense and long. That’s not the case. ... I think it’s mostly about getting the most out of your kids and getting them ready.”

I always have fun getting coaches to open up a little bit away from the rigors of their job, whether it’s on the football field or elsewhere. They’re only human, after all.

Just don’t expect to hear any heartfelt comments like these during the course of an actual game.

Colin Likas is the preps coordinator at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at clikas@news-gazette.com, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

Trending Videos