By John Ring
Published in The Burg August 18, 2022
In Coach Derrek Blackwell’s debut in the 2021 season at home against Dunlap, it all came down to this.
The Galesburg Silver Streaks and the Eagles played their opening week of the football season in one of the hottest, most humid days of the summer and fall. Dunlap nursed a 7-0 lead in the second half but the Streaks scored a touchdown in the final minute of the game and cut the lead to 7-6.
With both teams drained physically, Blackwell—as is his nature—went for the win. That’s in his nature. It shouldn’t have come as a shock and ultimately, it was the right decision.
The Streaks didn’t make it.
They lost. It was the first of three consecutive losses to start the season.. But Galesburg rallied as the year progressed, finished 4-5 and just missed the playoffs.
“I was proud of our team and coaching staff, the way they rallied and finished the season,” said Blackwell.
“We could have made the playoffs in we converted that play,” said Blackwell, ‘but there were a lot of other plays that factored into the season. We needed to play aggressive and go for it. That’s the way I look at football.”
“If you play passive, you get what you get. We went for the win.”
Now that his first season is over, Blackwell reflected on how hectic it was, both for him, the coaches and the players. It’s much more calmer this year as the practices are beginning. “Most definitely,” said Coach Blackwell. “It was a whirlwind. It was hectic. I was thrown into it fast. Now, it’s more calmer. It’s more organized.”
“And,” Blackwell continued, “there are no more first-year excuses.”
The Streaks participated in the Illinois Wesleyan Retreat this past summer and Coach Blackwell was very pleased with the results. “We had high expectations for it and they were exceeded, You could see the first night that this team was tight knit. They had pizza together, they hung out with each other. You saw guys hang out with other guys they never would before.”
“They were off the phones. They were off the electronics. They were one, they were a team. It was a brotherhood and that’s what we need here. Look, we’re in the Western Big 6 and it’s one of the toughest in the State. You have to be ready to play and work together as a team.”
Blackwell also has had some tweaks with the coaching staff. The new addition is Jacob Carl, who will be the TE and OLB coach for the Streaks and he will also coach the junior varsity team.
“He finished his career at Illinois State in 2016 when they won their first playoff game,” said Blackwell. “He understands the game at a high level.”
Considering everything, 4-5 wasn’t a bad debut for Blackwell and the Streaks. Aside from the Moline loss, Galesburg was very competitive in the other eight games.
And, Blackwell and the Streaks want that stat to be 9 for 9 and a record above .500 for the 2022 football season.