Polo coach hired to lead Eagles
Andrew Hofer, hired Wednesday, March 30, to coach the Mercer County Eagles football team, said in a phone interview Wednesday that he's excited about getting to work.
A 2004 graduate of Sherrard, where he played football under Pat Elder, the son of legendary coach John Elder, was asked how much coming back to the area played in his decision to apply for the job and how much was the football tradition at Mercer County and Aledo High schools.
"It's a mixture of both. It's a chance to coach close to where I grew up, at a school I competed against, a school with a great tradition," Hofer said.
The 30-year-old coached for five years at Polo, which plays in the Upstate Division of the Illini Conference, guided the Marcos to records of 8-3 and 11-1 his last two years at the Ogle County school. Last season, the high-scoring Marcos made it to the quarterfinals of the 1A playoffs before losing 35-17 to eventual state runner-up and fellow Lincoln Trail Conference team, Stark County.
Perhaps surprising with last season's Polo team averaging about 54 points per game, Hofer said he didn't use a complicated offense.
"We tried to keep things pretty simplistic for our guys," he said, partially because of a lack of depth. The new MCHS coach said the Marcos basically used four or five plays run out of a variety of formations.
As for what type of offense he'll use here, Hofer said that depends on the personnel. However, there are a few basics to his style on the offensive side of the ball.
"We were always run first," he said of the Polo offense. "My philosophy is I want to pass when I want to, not when I have to. It certainly has been a strong complement to our running."
What's interesting about the number of points the Marcos put on the board is, according to Tab Balmer of the Mercer County District 404 Board of Education, "He's actually a defensive guy. ... We all liked him very much."
Hofer's background includes a number of great coaching minds. In addition to playing under Pat Elder at Sherrard, he was an assistant coach for three years at Deer Creek-Mackinaw under Aledo High School graduate Job Linboom.
He said what he learned from those coaches has had a strong influence on his own coaching style.
"I've been able to learn multiple ways to win football games," Hofer said. "You can't ask for better guys to learn under."
In addition to being head football coach at MCHS, he will also be the administrative athletic director and assistant principal at the high school.
Polo is a 1A school with an enrollment of 196. The Upstate Division of the Illini Conference consists of smaller schools than those that play in the Northwest Division, but Polo's feat of winning the conference two years in a row is impressive. Its division is loaded with football powers, such as Freeport Aquin, Stockton, Milledgville, and Warren from the northwest Illinois town of the same name.
Hofer is married to his wife, Kady. They have 2-year-old twins, Micah and Savannah.