DEKALB, Ill. (WCIA) — The Rochester Rockets were bumped up a class this postseason, from 4A to 5A, but it didn’t make a difference as the Rockets claimed yet another state title on Saturday.
Holding a first place trophy is nothing new for the Rockets, but it is their first ever title in the 5A class, after winning seven State Championships in 4A.
“People always say, ‘You’re in 4A try to move up a class, and see what happens,’ and we saw what happened,” quarterback Clay Bruno said. “There’s some things you dream about as a little kid, and this is definitely one of them. Just being able to hold that state trophy, and be a senior and take that last snap and that last knee, it’s one of the best feelings.”
Their 14-point win over St. Rita gets even more impressive, as the Mustangs played in 7A for the last decade. But the Rockets playing up a class was far from being their biggest challenge. Wind and rain threatened the Bullets game plan, but Clay Bruno still threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns.
The weather was also less than ideal for a team plagued with the flu just a couple days before State.
“In my 15 years of coaching that was the worst flu situation I’ve seen,” head coach Derek Leonard said. “So to show the resiliency and the leadership these guys showed and the ‘next man up’ philosophy, which everybody talks about, but the win a state championship after the ‘next man up’ philosophy and have it actually work is incredible.”
Rochester has never lost a game at state. They now have eight state titles under head coach Derek Leonard, all within in the last ten years.