John Marshall linebacker Nolan Radtke was a huge part of Rockets' turnaround

Nov. 9—Nolan Radtke was a major player in the Rochester John Marshall football team's turnaround this past season, going from 0-9 a year ago to 4-6 this season and being competitive in nearly every game.

A 6-foot-3, 215-pound middle linebacker who is being recruited by Division II colleges, Radtke finished the year with 98 total tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 3 pass breakups and 2 forced fumbles. Besides playing his position so well, Radtke was also a team captain and one of its most vocal leaders.

For you, what was the highlight of this season?

I'd never been on a team that could beat Century at the varsity level. To do that twice this year, once on their Homecoming and once in the playoffs, that was my highlight.

How much did you put into this season, getting ready?

It started out team-wise with winter SAQ (speed, agility, quickness training) the first week of November last year. We tried to get everyone in on it five days per week (throughout the school year). We'd go three days of strength training and two days of speed training to get that edge. In the summer, it was SAQ five days per week.

How difficult was the 2022 season, JM going winless and rarely even scoring a touchdown?

That season drove me. It was an embarrassment walking through the hallways at JM having gone 0-9 and hearing that over and over by kids at school. After that happened, we discussed what we could do as a program to change it. There should be a pride in that Rockets logo. What we talked about is how we would begin to change things right now.

John Marshall second-year head football coach Kyle Riggott talks about "pillars of success" for his program. What are they?

They are "Be on time and intentional." "Positivity is contagious." "Control what you can control." And "Failing is for growing."

How vital are those pillars in this program?

They are important. They are what runs our program. They hold things up and give us structure, holding us to a standard.

Riggott, who's 30, has been talked about as a person who has infused a lot of energy and a spark to JM football. Tell us about him.

He has done so much for this program. He lets everyone know that they are included in this program and that we are growing this brotherhood tighter. He had us doing some off-season stuff that we'd never done before. We went swimming as a team following a practice one night. We did a highway cleanup after a practice and did other stuff like that. That impacts the community around us. And seeing the community's support, that has everyone buying in.

You played middle linebacker and some offensive guard this year, but are being recruited in college as a linebacker. Why does that position suit you so well?

I like being a leader and playing middle linebacker, you are the quarterback of the defense. I have to have an understanding of what coverages we run, what our defensive line is doing. I like to call those plays out and (instruct) people what to do, to vocalize myself. I also love the hitting part that goes with playing middle linebacker. I like to be able to strike fear right off the jump to the other team and send that first message.

You are regarded as a kind, polite and energetic young person. When you step onto the field, you are a tough guy who loves to hit. How do you make that transition from "nice guy" to "hard-hitting and play-with-an-edge football player?"

Whenever I step onto the field, that is a new me. I'm able to flip that switch. I've always loved football.

The John Marshall football team made a big jump this season, going from winless last year to a four-game winner this season. Do you see another similar jump being made next year?

Once a culture like this one gets going, it's hard to stop it. If they keep it going into next year, I think they can make another crazy leap.