Panthers Get A New Coach


Daven Duncan

The Panthers are charging into a new season filled with changes, the biggest one being that they have a new coach this year.

Alexia Leal , Staff Writter

Round Lake High School has been making improvements, from adding to the building and making renovations and improvements to the technology available in older rooms. Now even the athletic fields are under construction. And while a new stadium and other athletic amenities is an exciting prospect, the Panthers football team has not been able to practice at home, which has caused for a less-than-smooth season.

Along with the new fields, the RLHS Panthers are also welcoming a new head football coach. Mr. Scott Blecha is replacing Mr. Cristo Garza for the 2019 fall season. Assistant Coach Mr. Douglas Moss and members of the football team believe that Coach Blecha will help the Panthers improve. 

  Coach Blecha has been coaching for 12 years overall and has worked with both sophomore, JV, and varsity teams. He’s also had exposure to every position. Blecha started coaching freshman football at Barrington high school, coaching both the freshmen A and B teams in offense and defense. He also coached at Wauconda High School for for years. This is Blecha’s ninth year teaching at RLHS, so he’s no stranger to the students or players. He was even asked by students why he wasn’t coaching here, and so when Cristo left, he finally gave in. 

It hasn’t been a particularly easy transition for Blecha, either. The renovations to the athletic facilities means that the team spent quite a bit of time traveling off campus just to practice. However, Blecha was impressed with the players’ motivation. “The players have been great about taking advantage of every opportunity they’ve had all summer long,” he said. “All it is, is building on where they were last year and looking at what they’re doing and taking the off season to reevaluate what everyone’s doing and where the kids are at and planning for next year where we can start addressing some of these issues.”

And through it all, he’s still feeling positive about what’s in store for the Panthers. “I’ve definitely seen improvement just with the team being a year older and with having another year lifting and another year working through all their drills,” he said.

One of Blecha’s goals is to grow the team. “One of our issues right now is our numbers are pretty low so anybody who is willing to come out next year [or during the] off season would be great,’’ he said. “We can start improving there [and] get the numbers up and get more talent to come out.” 

Right now, Blecha has a reputation as an encouraging, hard-working, and welcoming coach, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get other high schoolers interested. “He brought a lot of hard work and discipline to the team,’’ said Captain Dominick Tovar.

Coach Moss also noted that Blecha has created a very welcoming environment. ‘‘Blecha has promoted the program in a way where kids are going to want to play and put in the work,” he said. ‘‘He isn’t trying to exclude kids; he is trying to give everyone an opportunity to experience what high school football is about.”

Players Israel Lopez and Marco Jimenez echo Moss’s sentiments: ‘‘My favorite thing about Coach Blecha is the way that he focuses on the team and not just a single individual and helps fix any mistakes made,’’ Lopez said. 

 ‘‘My favorite thing about the way he coaches is that he doesn’t have favorites and he is always on top of what he is supposed to do and makes sure players behave the way they are supposed to,” Jimenez said. “I think having his as a coach makes us confident because he knows what he’s doing and knows how to coach and handle players.”