By Lenny Sementi
Head football coach Andy Romine runs weight lifting at 7 a.m. and summer workouts are attended by more than 90 percent of his squad. He and his band of Warriors build the program one rep at a time, and once more their efforts paid dividends hanging yet another banner in the historic Tuscola Community High School Gymnasium.
The Warriors ended their year in the quarterfinals on the road at Maroa after being kicked up to Class 2A in the final week of the season. They ended the regular season with an 8-1 record overall and a 6-1 mark in the Central Illinois Conference. The loss to a very strong St. Teresa squad in week four was the first regular season blemish for him and the senior class after running off 30 straight wins. The seniors are the first class the coach was the top dog for start to finish.
Not only were the Warriors the smallest school in Class 2A it was without a doubt the deepest out of all eight classes boasting 11 unbeatens, five in the southern bracket with Tuscola. In the Elite Eight, five entered without a loss and two others, including the Warriors, had just one.
Romine leans on the confidence built in the weight room and the leadership of the senior class to fuel the squad. The diligence of a strict training regime was never more evident as it was this year. Tuscola suffered through injury after injury and just kept moving players into the vacated spots and never missed a beat.
“I felt like at times I was standing in front of a dam chewing gum and plugging never ending holes,” stated the coach. “In one week we had six seniors on the sideline injured, which speaks volumes to our commitment to our lower levels and team strength.”
The strong senior class posted a clean sweep of the team awards at this year’s banquet on Sunday, Dec. 2. Luke Sluder took home the team’s MVP. The two-year signal caller led the team in rushing, gaining 734 yards on 164 attempts and scoring 20 TD’s. He completed 111 passes out of 193 attempts for 1,779 yards and 16 touchdowns with just three interceptions. More astonishing in his career, he threw just six interceptions while attempting well over 400 passes in 26 games. All that earned the senior QB second team All CIC accolades and a spot on The News Gazettes All Area QB’s list. And maybe the most prestigious of all scholar athlete awards a first team inclusion on the Illinois High School Coaches Association Academic All State team.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Dec. 5 edition of The Tuscola Journal.