EDGINGTON — With a pair of its longest-serving coaches having resigned their positions, Rockridge High School filled both posts in one night.
At Wednesday night's school board meeting, Steve Disler's hiring as the Rockets' head football coach was approved, with the same taking place for the appointment of Ryan McDonald as the head girls' basketball coach.
On the gridiron, Disler succeeds Sam Graves, who compiled a 48-18 record in his six years at the helm and took Rockridge to the Class 2A playoffs in all six of his seasons, with his 2014 club going 10-2 and reaching the quarterfinal round.
"My goal is to not only keep the tradition going strong, but build upon it and expand it further," Disler said. "I want Rockridge football to be known across the state."
Disler comes to Rockridge from Rock Falls, where he posted a 1-8 record last fall in his one and only year as head coach. In 2017, he coached at Northwestern High School in Kokomo, Indiana, going 4-6 and losing in the first round of the IHSAA playoffs.
Previously, he was offensive coordinator at Farmington in 2015 and '16, with the Farmers reaching the 3A playoffs both times, including a quarterfinal run in '16. He was the freshman coach at Chillicothe IVC in 2013-14, and the JV receivers and secondary coach at Peoria Richwoods in '11 and '12.
"I had a buddy that kind of knew some people here, and when he saw an opening, he said 'Hey, look into this.'" Disler said. "I looked into it, and I saw the tradition of the football program and of all athletics at Rockridge and thought, this is interesting. Then I looked at the academics, and I thought this is something I can't pass up.
"I also know how strong the (Three Rivers Conference's Rock Division) is, and that the weekly competition is going to be fantastic. That's exciting for me, too."
While Disler is a newcomer to the Rockridge district, McDonald moves up from the Rockets' junior high girls basketball program to succeed Shawn Strachan, who won 236 games and a pair of Class A regional championships in his 16-year tenure.
"Obviously, I learned a ton from Shawn," McDonald said. "He came down and worked with our eighth-grade team, and I learned a lot watching him coach. At the same time, I want to start fresh and have us establish our own thing."
Taking over a youth-laden program with just one senior and four juniors, McDonald comes into his first varsity coaching job with the advantage of having worked with the bulk of his squad during their middle-school playing days.
He also hopes to bring a strong level of enthusiasm to the program and bolster the varsity team's numbers, citing a steady turnout of 10 to 12 players at open gym workouts this summer.
"I'm comfortable in making this transition," McDonald said. "I know these girls real well, and I have a good idea of what they're capable of doing. This is a group that is absolutely full of athleticism, and as we gain basketball experience, you're going to see some good things out of this group."