After dominating defenders at Illinois Valley Central, Brandon Ratcliff has taken his talents to Chadron State College in Nebraska.


After dominating defenders at Illinois Valley Central, Brandon Ratcliff has taken his talents to Chadron State College in Nebraska.

“I’ve been living out there over the summer and training with the coaches and other players,” Ratcliff said. “The workouts have been going really well. I’ve been getting my strength up and putting some weight on.”

Ratcliff found himself with more playing time in a successful season last year.

“Last season went really well,” Ratcliff said. “I got some pretty good playing time at right guard. It was a pretty good season. We came one win away from winning our (Rocky Mountain Athletic) conference and lost in triple overtime. We finished with an 8-3 record.”

Next season, Ratcliff  said he hopes to build on the success that the team had last season.

“We definitely want to win our conference this season,” Ratcliff said. “We were one win short of it last season so we want to finish this year. We also want to try and go undefeated and get a first round bye in the playoffs. It’ll be tough but I feel like we can do it.”

Ratcliff, a red-shirt junior, says his coach, Bill O’Boyle, IVC Athletic Director Denny O’Boyle’s brother, has helped him improve his technique for the college level.

“Coach O’Boyle is one of the best coaches for offensive lineman, and I’ve learned a lot of new techniques from him,” Ratcliff said. “You learn a lot more in college than in high school because you just play one position and you get a lot more one-on-one with the coaches for your position.”

It was O’Boyle’s connection at Chadron State that first got Ratcliff interested in the Eagles.

“I got the recommendation for the school from Denny so we made the trip out to check out the school,” Ratcliff said. “The atmosphere on the team is really what drove me in. There isn’t a lot to do in the area, so the guys on the team spend a lot of time together and we’re all really close.”

Not only did going to IVC give Ratcliff the idea to play at Chadron, it also gave him the mentality to play college football through his playing on the football and baseball team.

“IVC definitely taught me work ethic because I was a captain there and learned how to get guys ready to play,” Ratcliff said. “Coach Kilmer at IVC really helped me to build a work ethic about working out and being my best.”

While his current job may be student and football player, Ratcliff has his eyes set on some lofty goals after college.

“Right now I’m getting an education degree in social studies and an endorsement for coaching,” Ratcliff said. “We’ll see where it takes me and where they end up placing me, but I’d like to come back to work in the area.”

That love of the area is something that made Chadron college feel like home.

“One thing I love about being here is how much the town is like Chillicothe,” Ratcliff said.

While he may be far from home, Ratcliff still keeps in touch with his IVC friends, and has advice for current players.

“It’s all about loving the sport that you play,” Ratcliff said. “I was talking with another IVC graduate, Ryan Ambrose, and we were talking about how, if someone really wants to go far in whatever sport they are in, then they have to be willing to do the work and to take the time to improve their skills on their own.”

Listening to Ratcliff talk about football, it is easy to hear that he follows his own advice.

“I love the intensity of football,” Ratcliff said. “I’m really competitive and we have a lot of really competitive guys on the team, so that makes for really tough practices where the offense and defense beat up on each other. We go at it really hard in practice for bragging rights in the locker room that day.”

While Ratcliff is preparing for another tough season, he said he feels that IVC can have a positive football season as well.

“I know IVC has had some trouble in the playoffs recently, but if the team wants to have success in the playoffs, then the kids have to really work hard in the weight room and put in that time when no one is watching,” Ratcliff said.