Season Preview: Stockton Blackhawks
The Stockton Blackhawks enter the 2021 season under new Head Coach Matt Leitzen, who returns to the Blackhawks where he was a former player under legendary coach John O'Boyle, and a former assistant coach who was on staff when the Hawks last reached the state championship game. Expectations last season for Stockton were very low by the critics, but they were able to show what they could do, surpass the expectations, and make the playoffs. With the return of a lot of talent this year's Hawks won't be surprising anyone as they are expected to be towards the top of the NUIC North Division.
Stockton will feature the return of the current NUIC rushing leader, and with him bring back 2 other backs that can lead the attack for a run oriented team. While the Hawks have the skills, their key concerns will be at QB and their offensive and defensive lines. They will need to rely on inexperienced players to step up in order for the Hawks to be competitive. With Coach Leitzen stepping in, another question will be what offense does he bring with him; spread or wing/doublewing? He has experience with both concepts, but primarily ran a spread offense in his time at West Carroll.
Stockton is 44-31 in the playoffs all-time. The Blackhawks also lead the NUIC in state finals appearances with 6, and have the most playoff appearances in conference history. The Blackhawks 44 playoff wins is the 2nd most all-time in the NUIC, trailing only Galena. Stockton earned their 600th win in school history last season, which is the most wins in NUIC history and is top 30 in IHSA history. Stockton will open up the season on the road at Milledgeville.
Stockton Playoff History
1975 3-1 Class 2A State Runner-Up
1977 3-1 Class 2A State Runner-Up
1978 4-0 Class 2A State Champion
1991 5-0 Class 1A State Champion
2004 4-1 Class 1A State Runner-Up
2012 4-1 Class 1A State Runner-Up