Junior Tackle: Rochelle records home sweep over Dixon

Noah Hayden breaks a tackle during the Rochelle Junior Tackle fifth-grade football game against Dixon on Saturday. The fifth-graders won over Dixon 38-34. (Photo by Robin Rethwill)

Eighth-graders and seventh-graders each remain undefeated

ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Junior Tackle football teams hosted Dixon at Helms Park on Saturday afternoon, sweeping all four contests against the Junior Dukes. The eighth-graders remained unbeaten, while the seventh-graders earned their second win in a row and both the sixth and fifth-graders bounced back with victories. Rochelle will not play this coming weekend.

8th Grade

Dixon held an early lead after a 9-yard touchdown pass during the first quarter. The Junior Hubs (5-0) found their spark in the second quarter, with Cohen Haedt tossing a 23-yard pass to Holden Liebhaber, who hauled in a 25-yard pass later in the drive that set up a 1-yard touchdown run from Andrew Eyster. Rochelle and Dixon remained tied 8-8 at halftime.

Caiden Redlarczyk rushed for a 15-yard gain late in the second quarter. With the game still tied at 8-8 in the fourth quarter, Haedt connected with Liebhaber for a 16-yard gain before Eyster plunged forward for a 5-yard touchdown run to give Rochelle the lead. Eyster’s 18-yard run late in the fourth quarter led to a 12-yard touchdown run that helped the Junior Hubs clinch their 24-8 victory over Dixon. Eyster finished with 12 carries for 57 yards for the Rochelle offense.

Redlarczyk rushed for a team-high 67 yards on nine carries, while Haedt completed 6-of-9 passes for 77 yards and rushed for 24 yards on three carries. Redlaczyk and Eli Schweitzer each led the defense with five tackles, while Liebhaber had four tackles on defense as well as three receptions for 64 yards on offense. Aidan Lopez chipped in three tackles on defense.

7th Grade

Riley Smith opened the game with a defensive gem for the Junior Hubs, intercepting a Dixon pass and returning the ball 30 yards for a touchdown. Mikey Chadwick followed with a 1-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter, while Mason Lopez forced a fumble early in the second quarter. After Braxton Bruns rushed for a 25-yard gain, Smith dropped back and found Bruns for a 36-yard touchdown pass that allowed Rochelle to command a 24-0 lead over Dixon.

The Junior Hubs (4-0-1) continued to attack throughout the second quarter, with Bruns rushing for a 5-yard touchdown and Smith finding Vinny Tornabene for a 61-yard touchdown pass that helped Rochelle take a 40-0 lead over Dixon at halftime. The Junior Dukes avoided the shutout with a 41-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, but Rochelle emerged with the 40-8 victory.

Bruns led the rushing offense with 71 yards on five carries, while Nolan Zick carried the ball nine times for 46 yards and Chadwick finished with 23 yards on four carries. Bruns totaled four tackles on defense, with Zick and Xavier Hueramo each recording three tackles in the win.

6th Grade

Rochelle (3-2) defeated Dixon 22-8 on Saturday and recorded the first defensive highlight of the afternoon, with Kamden Kessen intercepting a pass and returning the ball for 5 yards during the first quarter. Eli Underwood’s 17-yard run near the end of the first quarter set the stage for a 2-yard touchdown run from Quentin Ansteth. Underwood followed with a 5-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter that enabled the Junior Hubs to take a 16-0 halftime lead over Dixon.

Jaycob Hammer’s 19-yard rush and Mason Picurro’s fumble recovery in the third quarter were two of the midgame highlights from Saturday’s win. Ansteth clinched Rochelle’s win with a 26-yard rush and an 11-yard touchdown rush late in the third quarter. The Junior Dukes avoided the shutout in the fourth quarter, completing a 71-yard touchdown pass and 2-point play.

Ansteth rushed for a team-high 75 yards on 10 carries, while Underwood rushed for 54 yards on five carries and Hammer added 22 yards on two carries. Roger Navarro led the defense with a team-high nine tackles including three tackles for loss and one sack. Kessen had four tackles.

5th Grade

A back-and-forth affair saw the Junior Hubs (3-1-1) hold on for a 38-34 win. Three touchdowns were scored in the first quarter, with Dixon scoring on a 30-yard rush and a 32-yard rush while Noah Hayden reached the end zone on a 3-yard rush for the Junior Hubs. Rochelle took a 22-12 lead in the second quarter, where Grange Kissack ran for a 39-yard touchdown and a 1-yard touchdown while Landon Johnson and Brayson Bouland each converted 2-point plays.

After Dixon scored on a 1-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter, Rochelle fired right back after Kissack scampered for a 36-yard touchdown run and Dominic Escatel converted the 2-point play. A 28-yard touchdown pass and a 15-yard touchdown run from the Junior Dukes during the fourth quarter wasn’t enough to overcome the Junior Hubs, who saw Hayden break loose for a 47-yard touchdown run and Bentley Etes convert the 2-point play to ice the win.

Hayden rushed for a team-leading 110 yards on six carries, while Kissack ran for 76 yards on three carries and Johnson recorded 51 yards on eight carries. Etes led the defense with five tackles, while Braxton Rosenthal and Tanner Williams each finished the game with four tackles.