Ready for some football? Here's how Galesburg High School is preparing for the season

Matthew Wheaton
Galesburg Register-Mail
Galesburg High School football coach Derrek Blackwell talks to his squad after Wednesday morning's team camp at Van Dyke Field.

GALESBURG — Unlike this time last year, Galesburg High School football coach Derrek Blackwell isn't feeling as much stress.

That's because Blackwell, who was hired as the Silver Streaks' mentor last June after a dozen years as an assistant, has a better handle on the behind-the-scenes responsibilities that come with being the main man.

"Last summer, I was out there like a chicken with my head cut off," Blackwell said after Wednesday morning's team camp at Van Dyke Field. "Like I told everybody, I understand football. When I'm on the field, I feel comfortable. It was the things outside of football that kind of ruffled my feathers.

"Right now, I feel like I'm more comfortable getting those things outside of football done and on the field it's the same thing," Blackwell added. "I just feel comfortable around the sport of football any time."

More:Galesburg High School football coach Derrek Blackwell reflects on 2021 season

Goals in July for GHS?

Blackwell and company began installing the offense, defense and special teams schemes in June, and what does he hope to accomplish in July?

"The goal is to keep numbers up, get better everyday and keep kids here working and understanding the Silver Streak way — how to play football tough, how to play football smart, being in good physical shape and just all those things," Blackwell said. "We've been putting stuff in since June slowly.

"What we did in June, we've just been reviewing right now, and every day we'll put something else in and just keep adding on and adding on and adding on," Blackwell added. "Hopefully, it will all be done by the time we're out of July."

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How did 2021 go for Streaks?

Galesburg started off 2021 with three straight defeats. However, the Streaks — and their coach — slowly worked out the kinks, and Galesburg went 4-2 overall to close out the season. Three of the Streaks' losses were by four points or less.

Galesburg hoped to be a playoff qualifier, and there was some chatter teams with 4-5 overall marks could make the cut. In the end, none did. In fact, one squad with a 5-4 record missed the playoffs.

After the season was over, Blackwell, a 2003 GHS grad who took the gridiron for the Streaks, took the blame for the trio of losses his team suffered in the beginning.

'Play for the Day' is Saturday

Galesburg is hosting the second annual "Play for the Day," a community cookout with a whole lot more, Saturday at Kiwanis Park. 

The free event takes place from noon-4 p.m. There will be free food, entertainment and prizes handed out. 

Area youth in the first through sixth grade interested in taking the gridiron in the Galesburg Junior Football League will have a chance to sign up and get more information. 

There will also be a dunk tank and those who compete will do so by throwing footballs at the target, and Blackwell will sit inside the tank at some point in the day.

"We feel the community does a lot for Galesburg athletics so we're giving back to the community," Blackwell said. "It gives the community a chance to get to know our student-athletes without their helmets on because you never get to see them because their helmets are on all the time. They'll get to put a number with a face."

'Friday Night Lights' in two weeks

Former Galesburg coach Tim Dougherty started the "Friday Night Lights" camp, four days of instruction intended for those in first through sixth grade, and his successors have continued the tradition. 

"Friday Night Lights" will take place in two weeks — Tuesday, July 26 through Friday, July 29 — at Van Dyke. 

Those in first through third grade will attend sessions Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30-6:45 p.m. Fourth through sixth graders will attend the same days but 7-8:30 p.m.

On Friday, July 29, all camp attendees will play under the lights in 7-on-7 tournaments from 7-9 p.m. 

Blackwell and his staff will teach safe tackling techniques, speed training and skill instruction for all positions on offense and defense. There were also be daily 7-on-7 passing league games. 

"That camp I want to provide a lot of football knowledge, as well as showing how fun the sport of football can be," Blackwell said. "You don't even have to be from Galesburg. We'll take anyone from surrounding areas. We just like teaching the sport of football to the youth.

"Kids getting out and playing is the main goal," Blackwell added. "We want them to get outside, get off those video games and be active."

2022 schedule

Friday, Aug. 26 at Dunlap, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 2 vs. Thornton, 7 p.m.

Friday. Sept. 9 vs. Sterling, 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 16 at Geneseo, 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 23 vs. Quincy, 7 p.m.

Friday. Sept. 30 at Rock Island, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 7 vs. Moline, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 14 at United Township, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 21 vs. Alleman, 7 p.m. 

Streaks' 2021 results

Week 1: Dunlap 7, Galesburg 6

Week 2: Morton 34, Galesburg 21

Week 3: Sterling 24, Galesburg 21

Week 4: Galesburg 28, Geneseo 7

Week 5: Galesburg 35, Quincy 9 

Week 6: Rock Island 33, Galesburg 30 OT 

Week 7: Moline 27, Galesburg 0

Week 8: Galesburg 17, United Township 8

Week 9: Galesburg 63, Alleman 0

Matthew Wheaton can be reached at (309) 315-6073 or at Follow him on Twitter @matthewlwheaton