Polo senior QB/RB/LB Brock Soltow finished his Illinois 8-Man Football Association career with a trip to the state semifinals this fall, and what a career it was.
Soltow walks away as the I8FA’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (83) and total offensive yards (6,670), and ranked second in rushing yards (5,424) and total touchdowns (104).
An I8FA first-team all-state selection for the third straight season and a unanimous first-team all-North 2 Division pick on offense and defense, Soltow accumulated 2,287 all-purpose yards and 34 total touchdowns this season, finding the end zone as a runner, passer and receiver.
As a runner, he carried the ball 162 times for 1,535 yards and 20 touchdowns. As a passer, he completed 18 of 45 attempts for 341 yards and seven touchdowns with one interception. As a receiver, he caught 27 passes for 411 yards and seven touchdowns.
Soltow also was an impact player on defense.
At linebacker, he recorded 75 tackles (55 solo), nine tackles for loss, two sacks, two pass breakups, one interception and two fumble recoveries.
For the second straight year, Soltow is the Sauk Valley Media Football Player of the Year.
Soltow answered questions from sports writer Dan Wussow.
The past three years, you’ve been a part of a historic Polo football run, winning an I8FA state championship in 2021 and reaching the state semifinals the past two seasons. How special has it been to be a part of that run, and what will you take away from that experience?
Soltow: It was a very special run the past three years, making it to all of those games and with those players that I got to play with. Making it to the state championship game was the thing I’m going to remember the most. The semifinals games are awesome, too, but there’s a whole different level from a state championship game to a semifinals game. You’re going to be the best team in I8FA or the second-best team. I will be taking from this that you should never quit on a play and give everything you have in life, because you will never get another chance to play high school football again and everyone looks for hard workers.
What are a couple of your best memories from this season?
Soltow: My favorite memories from this season have been ending Milledgeville’s season in the playoffs in Milledgeville. Another memory would be when we came back against Cambridge when we were down 12 with a minute and 30 left. Then, my last one is getting 5,000 rushing yards.
You scored multiple touchdowns rushing, passing and receiving this year. Which type of scoring play is the most satisfying, if one stands out above the others?
Soltow: I think the one that stands out the most is receiver when I can go up and catch it over someone. My favorite touchdown catch this year was in the playoffs against Milledgeville when I went up and caught it over two defenders.
In Week 3, your team lost 58-22 to Milledgeville, but in the state quarterfinals, you beat the Missiles 35-23. What was the difference for your team from the early-season blowout loss to the double-digit playoff win?
Soltow: The difference between the games was that all of our coaches got together and made a new blocking scheme against their two-line front. After we figured that out, we were able to run the ball. We were way more prepared for them, too.
How much more comfortable did you feel playing quarterback this year after making the switch, I believe, in Week 4 last year?
Soltow: I felt way more comfortable this year than last year because I didn’t really get to practice throwing routes or knowing all the plays last year. This year, I figured out all the plays and got more settled in.
You end your high school football career as the all-time I8FA leader in rushing TDs and total offensive yards and ranked second all-time in rushing yards and total TDs. What is your reaction to hearing those accolades/numbers, and what did it take for you to achieve that success?
Soltow: Hearing these numbers is crazy, but I can’t do that without my linemen. It took me, to achieve these numbers, putting in work in the weight room and staying after practice with some of the players. At every practice, you have to give it everything – even during the conditioning – because you won’t be in shape for games and practices, and it will get harder and harder. It’s an amazing feeling to get those numbers.
What is your favorite play that you’ve made in your high school football career?
Soltow: My favorite play that I made in my high school career was the catch to win the state championship game. I remember coach [Ted] Alston asking us if we wanted to punt the ball or go for it, and I remember all of us saying go for it. I had Tyler Merdian throw me a perfect ball where the defender couldn’t get it.
Who is the best player you played against in your high school football career?
Soltow: The best player that I played against was Kaiden Droste from West Central. He was in every spot that I would run to when we played in the semifinals. He had one of the craziest runs in an I8FA game when we played to beat us with four seconds left in the game. He was shifty and a quick running back and hard to tackle.