ROWVA/Williamsfield's Graham Wight makes all-state team; schools first since 1999
ONEIDA — One of ROWVA/Williamsfield's key players who led the football program's resurgence into a playoff team has earned all-state honors.
Graham Wight, a 6-3, 230-pound offensive-defensive lineman for the Cougars, was selected a first-team member of the Class 1A All-State team announced by the Illinois Football Coaches Association last week.
"Overall, he easily the best player on our team and a leader on and off the field," said R/W coach Grant Gullstrand, whose team finished 6-5 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2018.
"For being as big as he is, he was really explosive off the ball and by far he was our smartest player on the field."
"I had never even dreamt bout this honor," said Wight. "This will drive me to keep working harder to play where I can in college.
"Hopefully, this accomplishment sets a standard for future ROWVA/Williamsfield athletes."
Wight is the first all-stater produced by ROWVA or a ROWVA co-op, which for a time was known as Mid-County, since Justin Powers earned the honor in 1999.
Wight, who also plays basketball and football at the school, was a three-year varsity starter and two-year captain in football who also served as a kicker and long snapper. He will receive an all-state plaque this week during ceremonies at the Class 1A state championship game.
"What impressed me most was his physicality," said Gullstrand.
"We pass out helmet stickers for pancakes — blocks that take an opponent to the ground — and he had over 60 of them this season."
Wight admits, that is his favorite part of the game.
"I thoroughly enjoy physically manhandling the guy lining up across from me," he said. "It’s just something. Going up against someone, and absolutely owning them is what I love most. I like to joke around and say If I were to work somewhere, it’d be IHOP because I’m always serving pancakes."
Gullstrand especially appreciates Wight's contributions to the program that he took over for Wight's freshman year.
"With this group of seniors were freshmen, for two years we were Mid-County," said Gullstrand.
"Then in the COVID year (2021) we won two varsity games and in their junior year we won two games.
"He and the rest of the seniors played a big part in keeping everybody up.
"By the time his sophomore spring season rolled around, you could tell he was going to be a special player."
"I’d like to say that my favorite memory from football was making the playoffs this year." said Wight.
"Coach Gullstrand came in to coach my freshman year, with a rough squad with a lot of potential. With three years of the cougars having a losing season, I wanted to prove to Gullstrand that we could be a good football team, so I worked hard and made sure my teammates worked hard."
Wight, who had two other brothers play college ball at Rose-Hulman, is still considering his options to follow graduation.
"I’ve got some top colleges I’m looking at right now," he said.
"I’ve gone on different college visits and game day visits at different places to get a feel for the colleges. I’m still gonna wait until probably February or so to decide where I want to go, so that way I can look at financial packages and look at the pros and cons of attending the different colleges.
"Some of these colleges include U of I, IU, North Central College, Augustana, and McKendree. Of course some of the bigger schools I’d love to play football at but haven’t been given the opportunity yet, so that’s always something to work for and try to achieve. I've also been in contact with some different football coaches recently whose schools I haven’t really looked into yet, but if football is in the picture, I’m all for it."