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NWHerald Football Coach of the Year

June 6, 2012
Richmond Burton High School

NWHerald Football Coach of the Year:  Elder keeps RB winning, not rebuilding-Rockets go 11-1 after graduating most of starters. 
By JOE STEVENSON - jstevenson@nwherald.com
NWHerald 11/30/10)
Richmond-Burton quarterback Adam Pittser had a feeling every Friday night that the Rockets' opponent might be in trouble.

Part of it was R-B's talent level. Even more important was its preparation.

"We looked like the most structured and prepared team every single game," Pittser said. "I feel we're so much more prepared than every team. The success we've had is a direct reflection on [R-B coach Pat Elder]."

He is 40-17 in his five seasons at R-B and has coached the Rockets to two state semifinal appearances and a quarterfinal appearance in the past three years. The Rockets showed the level that their program had reached this season when, despite graduating 16 starters from the 2009 team, they finished 11-1, losing in the IHSA Class 4A playoff quarterfinals to Rock Island Alleman, 21-20.

For his team's dominance in winning the Big Northern Conference East Division for a second consecutive year, Elder is the Northwest Herald Coach of the Year, selected by the sports staff with input from area coaches.

There was no shortage of worthy candidates this season, with Crystal Lake South's Chuck Ahsmann, Jacobs' Bill Mitz, Prairie Ridge's Chris Schremp and Cary-Grove's Bruce Kay all being considered. Elder, who was a strong candidate the past two years when his team reached the semifinals, gets the award this time.

"We had another great group of seniors who wanted to make their own mark," Elder said. "They wanted to step out of the shadows a little bit. They were very intent on making their own footprints. My role is to coordinate and get everybody on the same page.

"We've been so fortunate, our staff is so excellent on all levels with teaching the system to the kids. We've had great kids and great parents. The most amazing thing about this year and last year's teams were how unselfish everybody was. No one ever complained about carries, and everyone understood about how we got things done."

There was little question what the youngest of John and Judy Elder's seven children would do when he was growing up. Pat played quarterback for his father's Alexis High School teams and was destined for coaching.

The Elders' oldest son, John, coached for a while at Joliet Catholic, and their next son, Joe, lives in Cary and is a football official. Pat is following in the footsteps of his father, an Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Famer.

"I didn't know much else," Pat Elder said. "It's kind of always what I wanted to do. High school athletics, particularly football, have been my life. It's been awful good to us so far."

Pat talks often with his father, who catches most of R-B's games. The two were together over the weekend in Champaign watching the IHSA state championship games.

"I consider myself special to be a part of his teams," senior tight end Tim Clary said. "He has his serious moments, but he usually tries to keep the mood light. He says, ‘If you want to win, I'll help you win.' I like his philosophy of always being on time and getting things done in practice. We don't always have real long practices, but we get things done."

Pittser, who has offers from four NCAA Division I schools, feels like Elder has prepared him well for the next level.

"A lot of it's the way he does things," Pittser said. "It's hard to explain. We developed such a close relationship, and he developed me into the player I am. With every mental aspect of the game, the stuff he did for me will take me a long way."

R-B started 14 seniors this season, but the Rockets should be good again next season. Their sophomores won the BNC East and went 8-1.

"I just try to provide sound, solid direction," Elder said. "I just want to make sure we're all on the same page."

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