QUINCY -- Quincy High School football coach Rick Little felt like he went into each game this past season with the best player in the state in his lineup.
He wasn't alone in that thinking.
Jirehl Brock, the all-state senior running back and Iowa State commit, was named the Gatorade Illinois Football Player of the Year on Wednesday. Brock rushed for a single-season school record 2,158 yards and 33 touchdowns in leading the Blue Devils to a 7-3 record and the playoffs for the sixth straight season.
He is now eligible for the Gatorade National Player of the Year, which will be announced later this month.
"At a young age, you knew he'd be a good player, and that's something we recognized early," Little said. "But we also knew he had a chance to be a great player. The exciting thing about him as he moves forward is he continues to get better and better and better, and that ceiling for him is super high."
Brock's record-setting season ended with numbers that put him among the state's all-time elite players.
The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Brock finished his three-year varsity career with 5,135 rushing yards, which ranks 19th all-time in Illinois High School Association history.
He had 78 career rushing touchdowns and 91 total touchdowns, obliterating every rushing and scoring record in program history. He broke single-game rushing record of 304 yards he set as a sophomore against Rock Island at the end of regular season after tying the mark earlier in the year.
He rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns at Galesburg in Week 5. and then in his final game played in Quincy, Brock rushed for 333 yards and tied the single-game school record with six touchdowns in a 63-7 victory at Quincy Notre Dame. It was the third time in his career he scored six touchdowns in a game.
"When you're watching it in the moment, you appreciate what is going on," Little said. "But it becomes such commonplace, that you get spoiled by him constantly delivering. At the end, when you sit back and look at the numbers, it makes a lot of sense that people acknowledge his greatness as well."
Brock rushed for two or more touchdowns in every game this season and had 200 or more yards rushing in seven of the 10 games. In lopsided victories against North Lawndale and United Township, Brock didn't play in the second half after carrying the ball 11 times in the first half of both games combined.
He had 92 yards on six carries against North Lawndale and 132 yards on five carries against United Township. Five of those 11 carries resulted in touchdowns.
Brock averaged 11.5 yards per carry overall.
"You knew there was a chance something special would happen each and every time he touched the ball," Little said. "It was amazing to watch."