CHAMPAIGN — Rochester is one of the state’s football powerhouses. The Rockets won five consecutive Class 4A titles from 2010-14. Until last season, the current group of seniors had never lost a playoff game.
That tradition and experience, and especially the fast-paced offense, was just too much for Johnsburg on Friday at Memorial Stadium as the Rockets beat the Skyhawks 38-14 to win the Class 4A state title.
“It was just amazing to be a part of this team,” Johnsburg senior Dyllan Hess said. “To see the seniors go 1-8 when we were freshman and then to be sitting here, that’s something.”
Rochester’s primary weapons were a pair of brothers, senior wide receiver/defensive backs D’Ante and Avante’ Cox.
D’Ante caught 10 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Avante’ finished with 10 receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
“This is the most explosive team I’ve ever had and those two are a big part,” Rochester coach Derek Leonard said.
The brothers were also a force defensively, each grabbing one interception.
“The Cox brothers, they were the real deal,” Johnsburg quarterback Riley Buchanan said. “They are really good, we had respect for them. The Cox brothers cover guys really well, they make you pay. Running the ball worked out, we didn’t bass the ball as well as we wanted to.”
Buchanan finished 10-for-20 for 84 yards with four interceptions. Running back Alex Peete had 35 carries for 242 yards and two touchdowns for Johnsburg (13-1)
Rochester (13-1) jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Two touchdowns from Peete tied the score at 14 in the second quarter, but it was all Rockets from then on.
“The majority of teams in 4A don’t run their offense at that pace,” Johnsburg coach Dan DeBouef said. “This moment can’t take away the type of season we had and the footprint they’ve set for the future of the program.”
Johnsburg knocked off Phillips, the defending champs, in the semifinals. The entire town packed the stadium and created a ferocious atmosphere. The Skyhawks had a large crowd in Champaign as well.
“We love this town, I love my team,” Hess said. “It’s been incredible.”