O’Neill High School’s 39-22 state football title win over Bishop Neumann this fall won’t be the last time fans see head coach Brock Eichelberger on the sidelines before next season.
He was recently selected to coach in the Northeast Nebraska Football Classic.
“I’m honored and privileged to represent the O’Neill Area,” Eichelberger said. “It’s a great honor with all the names of all the local coaches around here being selected.”
Eichelberger has coached a high school football all-star game before—when he was the head coach for Ewing High School—but this summer’s Northeast Nebraska Football Classic will be different for coach. He’ll be calling the plays for the White squad’s offense.
"I coached the defense in an eight-man all-star game as defensive coordinator. I’ve been selected for the offensive coordinator this year,” Eichelberger said. “Tom Olsen from Norfolk high was the offensive coordinator last year.
"I’ll be picking his brain some to see what he put in last year.” Eichelberger added that white team’s head coach Rod Brummels really liked what he did for an offense.
"I’ve got a lot of the free reign to pick many of the offensive players that we’re going to take on this team. That process has been a lot of fun,” he said.
Coordinating the offense in an all-star game is much different—and more complicated—than coordinating defense, according to Eichelberger. This is due mainly to restrictions put on the defense, he said.
The defense is not allowed to blitz linebackers or stunt defensive linemen, and the cornerbacks must play seven yards off the line of scrimmage. This limits what a defensive coordinator can do and keeps them to the basics.
Eichelberger isn’t worried much about that though, or the fact that both eight-man and 11-man players will play in the 11-man showdown.
“Football is football for the most part,” Eichelberger said. “You don’t have as many big plays in 11-man. It’s going to come down to blocking and tackling. I don’t think it’s going to be a hard transition at all.”
Eichelberger is also excited to coach as many as four of his own O’Neill players who will participate in the game.
“It will be a special moment to have one more time on the field with those guys,” Eichelberger said. “We’ll definitely have a good showing from our O’Neill team.”
I would say the maturity of our team was one of the best I’ve ever seen,” Eichelberger said. “Being in so many big moments against so many household names, I was just so pleased and almost dumbfounded of how poised, mature and how confident our kids played in big moments. They just kept proving themselves. It just kept happening.”
He added, “You wondered when you were going to wake up from the dream. I still feel like we haven’t woke up from the dream, it’s amazing what a group of kids can accomplish when they work together and are that mature.”
He also wanted to stress the importance of the community in the building of O’Neill’s championship team.
“Our community just takes a lot of pride in the product our kids have put on the field the last three, four, five years. Our kids just feed off of that,” Eichelberger said “It’s just like anything. You like to be complimented as a high school kid. I’m 40 years old and I still like it when the principal tells me good job, or somebody else in the community tells you great job. People I don’t even know are congratulating me.
And the coach only sees it getting better.