The Plymouth Rockies will begin their 137th year of football competition Friday night at The Rockpile. The Pilgrims (yes, they were the Pilgrims when they began playing football) started play for the first time in 1896. Gideon Blain was the first known head coach of the Pilgrims. The overall record of the program is 491 – 340 – 15.
In 1942 Art Thomas became the head coach of the Pilgrims. He would remain head coach for 14 years, currently the 2nd longest tenured coach for the Pilgrims/Rockies. When Art was the head coach, he and his players did not feel like the nickname Pilgrims was an appropriate name for a football team. He wrote a petition to the Plymouth School Board asking the football nickname be changed to a more appropriate name…The Rockies! The school board approved it, and Plymouth became the first IHSAA member school to officially have two nicknames.
Bill Nixon was the head coach for the Rockies during two different four years stints. Bill coached the Rockies from 1975 – 1978, and again from 1982 – 1985. During his time as head coach, the Rockies went 64 – 19 and won their only football state championship in 1977.
Tom Condon (1989 – 2003) is the longest tenured football coach in Pilgrim/Rockie history. Tom was the head coach for 15 years. His overall record was 94 – 73. This included three sectional championships and three regional championships. At the time of his retirement, he was the winningest PHS football coach of all time.
Current Rockie Head Coach John Barron took over for Condon in 2004. John will be starting his 13th year as the mentor of the Rockies. Last year he overtook Condon as the winningest Pilgrim/Rockie coach of all time. John is currently 98 – 37. The Rockies have won five NLC Championships while John has been head coach. They won their first sectional championship since 2001 last year.
The Rockies and Bremen Lions football history is a long one. They were both charter members of the Northern Lakes Conference in 1964. Even after the Lions dropped out of the NLC and joined the NSC in 1987, the rivalry continued. Recently the Lions joined the NIC and it has made it difficult to continue this series. Currently, this will be the last game of the present Bremen/Plymouth football series. Next year during Week One of the 2017 football season, the Rockies will be open with the East Noble Knights.
Festivities at the Rockpile will begin early Friday night. The gates will be open at 5:15 for those arriving early to get a look at the new and improved Rockpile. The Senior Night festivities will begin at 6:50. The re-dedication of The Rockpile will take place starting at 7:10. Kickoff is set for 7:30.
Come out early and try out the grilled food items our new concession stand has to offer. The picnic area will also be available for meeting your friends.