BARTONVILLE, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Jeff Schmider might be new to the job but he’s not new to Limestone.

The former Rockets lineman and assistant coach is the new head coach at the Bartonville school. He was a part of conference championship team in 1989 and would like to see the school return to its days of contending for league titles.

“We’re just trying to bring back a a little of that Limestone tradition,” Schmider said. “We are a blue collar community, we have to come to work every day and be a representative of this community.”

Limestone has 75 players in the program this fall and it returns a good chunk of key players. Schmider estimates he has “six or seven” returning starters on each side of the ball.

The Rockets were sophomore-heavy last year. Many of those now-juniors like what they see in the coach.

“We have designated workouts every day. We know what we are doing every day,” said junior quarterback Caleb Bieneman. “It’s not a guess, like we might do this or that. We are doing it. It’s very organized.”

The Rockets says they spent more time in the weight room this summer than they realized. That has made them stronger for the difficult yteams they’ll face in the Mid-Illini Conference which sent five schools to the 2021 playoffs.

“It’s more intense. We are in the weight room a lot more now,” said junior linebacker Connor Pilgrim. “We are training more and getting way better at football. He fires us up and makes us more excited.”

Limestone opens the season Friday at home against Mount Zion.