Date: March 1
Location: Auburn High School; Rockford, Illinois
Our first two entries into the Top Ten list weren’t ones that caught us off guard, to a certain extent. We figured Montee Ball would break the record eventually, and with the speed and force the NHL has developed, hits like Raffi Torres’ on Marian Hossa are not uncommon. But number eight? Color me surprised.
The Boylan Titans are the long-standing football power in Northern Illinois high school football. Unparalleled success in the last decade, and all of that finally paid off with back-to-back state championships in 2010 and 2011. So when head coach Dan Appino said he was leaving at the end of February, the Rockford region did a double take. Why on Earth would he leave a state power like Boylan?
The answer was even more surprising.
On March 1st, the Rockford School District announced that Appino was taking over the Auburn Knights, the long-time cellar dwellers of the conference. A team that hadn’t won a game in four years. A team with one of the lowest player turnouts in the region. A school with cramped, aging, and downright dangerous athletic facilities. The school district took care of the last part, installing field turf and renovating the weight rooms and stadium seats. Appino was brought in for the former.
A massive challenge awaited. Before Appino could even think about getting Auburn in the win column, he had to convince the kids at Auburn to join the team, and stay with the team. Then he had to sell them on his style, a hard-nosed defensive mentality that carried Boylan to years of success. And not only did it get Auburn in the win column, it sent them to the playoffs.
Turnarounds like the Auburn Knights are atypical in the NIC-10, a conference that has been relatively repetitive with who’s at the top, and who’s at the bottom. But the last couple of seasons have seen the bottom tick upward, creating a more competitive conference. The Rockford School District’s efforts toward this started the engine. Snagging Dan Appino away from Boylan and sending him to Auburn have driven us here.
10. Montee Ball Breaks NCAA Touchdown Record
9. Raffi Torres Hits Marian Hossa
8. Dan Appino Goes To Auburn
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