Richmond-Burton football coach Mike Noll's year just keeps getting better.
Noll was inducted into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame last spring, a few months after his first trip to a semifinal game in his 29-year career.
The Rockets finished their 14-0 season Nov. 29 with a 50-14 victory over Murphysboro for the Class 4A state championship at Northern Illinois University's Huskie Stadium.
On Wednesday, Noll received exciting news from R-B athletic director Kristi Martin, who informed him that he had been selected as the Bears' High School Coach of the Year.
Noll will attend the Bears’ home game Dec. 22 against Kansas City, where he and some players will be recognized as the Class 4A state champions. He also will be honored at that point as Bears High School Coach of the Year.
“Football’s been good to me, that’s for sure,” Noll said. “This is reflective of the coaches, the assistants and the players. I’m just thankful. I don’t know how [the Bears] pick it, but I was awfully excited to get the news.”
Each of the 32 NFL teams select a High School Coach of the Year. The winners’ schools receive a $2,000 grant for the football program, get to attend a practice, have lunch with the coaches and receive a trip to January's Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida. Noll is the Bears' nominee for the Don Shula High School Coach of the Year award, a national honor.
Noll’s father Don was originally from Milwaukee, so Noll grew up a Packers’ fan, but he also liked the Bears. When he coached in McHenry from 1988 to 2003, he met Bears’ great Walter Payton twice and also had the opportunity for his players to hear other Bears players speak.
Noll looks forward to attending the Bears practice and watching coach Matt Nagy and his staff work.
“Over the years, I went to Northwestern the most, and Northern [Illinois University],” Noll said. “It’s great going to watch practices. You can learn how the best do it. I’m excited about that.”