Five players selected as captains to lead Leathernecks’ football team to victory

Michael Harms , Courier Staff

Every great group has a great captain. The new colonies had George Washington, the civil rights movement had Martin Luther King Jr. and now the Western Illinois University football team has their leaders. Five captains, three offensive and two defensive, have been named for the upcoming season.

The most obvious choice for one of the captain positions is Connor Sampson, the junior quarterback. The man starting under center is going to lead the offense, so he might as well have that prestigious C on his uniform to help lead the entire team off the field, too. This will be his first year at the helm and all eyes will be on Sampson to lead this team to victory.

Next up will be the workhorse back for the Leathernecks, Clint Ratkovich. A junior running back for the Leathernecks is looking to be a dual threat in the backfield and as a receiver. He is returning to the captain list after his previous year and looking to improve from his 616 receiving yard season.

The final offensive captain is Jared Drake. The senior running back is in his second season with the Leathernecks after transferring from Ohio State. He appeared in 10 games and recorded six receptions with 20 yards. He is the most surprising man to be on this list, but his knowledge on and off the field will ultimately benefit the team.

These three offensive weapons will be the first three out of the gate, the ones to lead the charge against the enemy. The entire team will look to these chosen few in times of trouble and in times of need. They have a heavy load upon them but are capable of rising to the occasion.

Only two captains were named on the defense. First is senior defensive back Eric Carrera. He appeared in all 11 games last year and recorded a season high in interceptions with three and tackles with 66. He will be the leader in the secondary, making sure everyone matches up correctly and there are no blown assignments.

Defensive schemes are not always easy to comprehend. However, Carrera has been in this defensive system for a number of years and has the experience and knowledge to overcome almost any challenge. In fact, he shares the most experience of all captains with his partner Tom Rehfeld, the final named captain.

Rehfeld is a senior linebacker he has recorded 12 tackles. The defense was the highlight of last year for the Leathernecks behind some star-studded talent. Rehfeld will be held accountable to see that the defense does not miss a beat and drop in production. This will be his fifth year in Macomb and final one on the gridiron. He will look to leave his mark on the history books and bring his best.

Head Coach Jared Elliot is in charge of making these decisions and is super excited for this season. “It is an honor within our program to be voted a captain. Our team takes a lot of pride in how we do things here: the Leatherneck way. All of these guys embrace our culture and have earned the respect from their teammates as leaders. They have all held themselves to a very high standard and naturally make those around them better. They love their teammates and demonstrate the great quality of selflessness,” Elliot told

With these men at the helm of the Purple and Gold, they are poised for success this year that starts Aug. 29 against University of North Alabama.