ROCHELLE — James Kerfin looked to improve his pass rushing abilities after earning All-Conference First Team recognition on the defensive line last season, and the Rochelle senior stepped his game up for the Hubs varsity football team this fall.
Behind a team-leading four sacks as well as 26 total tackles and one fumble recovery against the Morris Redskins in the state quarterfinals, Kerfin was honored by the Northern Illinois Big 12 West as an All-Conference First Team player for the second straight season. Kerfin joins fellow senior Bazil Bennett, a first-time All-Conference First Team honoree as Rochelle’s two representatives on the All-Conference First Team defensive line.
“It felt good,” Kerfin said. “I definitely thought I improved from the prior year so it felt really nice to be able to get All-Conference again on defense. I felt like my pass rushing skills improved a lot and I also felt like I was being more of a leader.”
“I felt like all of my hard work paid off,” Bennett added. “It’s something I definitely worked for this year. We just have a good bond and we’re like a family. My speed definitely improved and I was able to keep outside contain, which was something I’ve been working on since last year.”
Bennett was one of two Hubs to record two sacks this fall, and the senior finished the 2017 season with 35 tackles including seven tackles-for-loss, third-best behind senior Alex Harvey and junior Eddie Villalobos. Both Kerfin and Bennett will be leaving the program, but the two seniors are confident that Rochelle’s up-and-comers on a defensive line that helped the team record three shutouts this fall will come through in the future.
“It’s been such a great experience here,” Bennett said. “My teammates supported me the whole time. Everything about it has been great and there weren’t any bad things to say about it. Just work at what you’re good at.”
“Most of us played on the defensive line together last year so we worked together pretty well,” Kerfin continued. “I will miss all of it but I will probably miss game days the most. Nothing felt better than game day.”