BRADLEY — Year after year, notable players depart high school programs and leave "holes to fill" in their former starting lineups.
But in the case of Bradley-Bourbonnais senior Autumn Hollowell, Boilers coach Rohan Robinson doesn't think he has a "hole to fill."
He's got a canyon.
"We have to find a way for everybody else to step up," Robinson said. We've had players in the past come out and dominate. But we've never had anyone like Autumn, who had such a nose for the goal and her ability to score. There have been very few games where she walked away without scoring. So this isn't just a hole we have to fill. It's big, gaping hole. A canyon."
Robinson's comments put into perspective why Hollowell has been named the 2018 Daily Journal Player of the Year.
Coming into her senior season, Hollowell stood at 51 career goals after finding the back of the net 27 times as a junior.
She topped that output by netting 37 scores this spring, catapulting her career total to 88 goals and setting a new school record.
"I just wanted to do the best I could and a leave a mark on the program before I left," Hollowell said. "I never expected to be the leader (in goals scored). But it's crazy."
Of her 37 goals this season, one stands out in Hollowell's mind.
"We were playing Granite City in a tournament in Iowa and we were down 1-0. Mikayla (Brandon) connected with me and I scored to tie and force the game into penalty kicks. It was a great experience for our girls to come back and win, eventually. It really gave us a confidence boost going forward."
But scoring goals might not even describe the legacy she leaves.
"The thing about Autumn is her tenacity on the field. She is the person who wants to win, has the drive and wants people around her to be better," Robinson said. "She's like a coach on the field. Most of her teammates have to realize she pushes everyone. At the end of the game, they realize, 'If she didn’t do that, I don’t play such a good game.’"
Behind their fearless leader, the Boilermakers pieced together a 17-5-2 season, one that ended in a Class 3A regional final. Those 17 wins are the most the program has compiled while a part of the SouthWest Suburban Conference.
Over the course of Hollowell's three-year stint with BBCHS — she did not play her sophomore year — the program has an overall record of 42-15-5.
"We had a lot of young players that came in and helped us out this year," Hollowell said of her team's success. "Everybody stepped up and that's why we had a successful year."
Now that her high school career has reached its conclusion, Hollowell plans to play at Minnesota State University, where she'll major in accounting.
While with the Mavericks, Hollowell knows she has her work cut out for her. After all, playing in high school and playing in college is like comparing apples and oranges in most cases.
“I'll definitely miss the girls (at BBCHS). We were a really close team this year," she said. "And I'll miss the coaching staff. (Robinson) has been great and he's really pushed me to be the best I can be. But I'm excited to play in college. I just want to get in there, start and hopefully play all four years."
Robinson has no doubt that Hollowell's plans will come to fruition.
“It's not new to her," Robinson said of the college workload Hollowell will face. "The only thing that will be new to her is her teammates. Her way of playing constantly allows her to adapt to something new. She'll continue to play at a high level and work twice as hard because that's what college makes you do. She'll rise to the top and she'll be successful."