Junior Tackle: Rochelle teams finish 2021 season strong

The Rochelle Junior Tackle fifth-graders completed an unbeaten season with a 30-0 victory over Winnebago in the Big 14 Conference Championship on Saturday. The team includes Gabe Bybee, Mikey Chadwick, Nolan Zick, Braxton Bruns, Riley Smith, Kayl True, Joey Chadwick, Ivan Xelhua, Isaiah Martinez, Mason Lopez, Maddox Provow, Elijah Good, Joshua Hernandez, Axel Alsop, Montana Contreras, Benjamin Morris, Wyatt Battershell, Daniel Garcia, Derik Maertz, Charlie Kettleson, Carson Smith, Vinny Tornabene and Gavyn Foster. The fifth-graders, who went 8-0 this season, are coached by Chris Smith, James Jackson, Riley Hall and Christopher Lopez. (Photos by Robin Rethwill)

Fifth-graders, eighth-graders take home Big 14 Conference titles

PRINCETON — The Rochelle Junior Tackle teams closed out the 2021 season this past weekend, with the eighth-graders and the fifth-graders each winning their respective Big 14 Conference Championship matchups. The sixth-graders took second in the Big 14 Conference with a loss on Saturday, while the seventh-graders placed third with a victory on Sunday.

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8th Grade (7-1)

Brode Metzger broke off a 60-yard touchdown run to give Rochelle the early lead against Princeton on Saturday, with Gavin Neale rushing for the 2-point conversion. The Junior Hubs then conceded an 84-yard passing touchdown and a 42-yard rushing touchdown, falling behind 16-8 before Princeton added a 23-yard touchdown pass during the second quarter.

Roman Villalobos helped bring Rochelle back, scoring on a 6-yard touchdown rush and running in the 2-point conversion to make it a 24-16 game. Van Gerber followed with a 7-yard rushing touchdown on the next Junior Hub possession, cutting Princeton’s lead to 24-22 at halftime. Rochelle took the lead once again early in the third quarter, surging ahead on a 29-yard touchdown run from Villalobos before Metzger rushed for the 2-point conversion.

The back-and-forth offensive battle continued throughout the second half, with Princeton rushing for a 20-yard touchdown and evening the game at 30-30. Metzger answered for the Junior Hubs, scoring on a 20-yard touchdown run before Princeton responded with a 32-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Metzger scored the final touchdown of the game, rushing for a 29-yard score and adding the 2-point conversion. Rochelle defeated Princeton 44-36.

Metzger rushed for a team-high 137 yards, while Villalobos ran for 107 yards and Neale totaled 53 yards on the ground. Neale led the defense with seven tackles in the win over Princeton.

The team includes Brode Metzger, Leon Combs, Reece Harris, Antonio Hueramo, Bane Workman, Colten Manning, Tony Milburn, Andrew Johnson, Caden Goodwin, Van Gerber, Freddie Hernandez, Julian Acevedo, Mark Green, Lucas Bruce, Roman Villalobos, Brandon Cortes, Frank Nasca, Gavin Neale, Keagan Albers, Wyatt Worthington, Brenden Voight, Tyler Johnson, Mark Guzman, Francisco Martinez, Gabriel Montes, Cody Harris, Kegan Kirk, Brayden Carter, Martiese Pogue, Ryder Stombaugh, Markell Pogue and Parker Slattengren. The eighth-graders are coached by Ben Manning, Brad Metzger, Jason Pavlak and Jim Gensler.

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7th Grade (7-1)

After a scoreless first quarter, Rochelle blew its matchup against Dixon wide open with three second-quarter touchdowns from Dylan Manning, who made it a 6-0 game with a 1-yard touchdown run before catching two touchdown passes from Brody Bruns, who connected with Manning on a 51-yard score before the two linked up on a 55-yard score before halftime.  

Leading 20-0 entering the third quarter, Rochelle moved ahead on a 4-yard rushing touchdown from Tyler Gensler, with Manning adding the 2-point conversion rush. Bruns finished with 131 passing yards for the Junior Hubs, who took down Dixon 28-0. Manning rushed for 43 yards, while Angel Hernandez and Gensler each ran for 26 yards. Adam Cobos totaled three tackles.

The team includes Connor Lewis, Dylan Manning, Jonathan Andrist, Luke Dickey, German Albertson, Angel Hernandez, Kasin Avila, Brody Bruns, Tyler Gensler, Bobby Tourdot, Bryson Wells, Joshua Peper, Andrew Huerta, Joshua Lassiter, Owen Miller, Justin DeClerck, Keegan Cathina, Julian Rodriguez, Angel Argueta, Gavin Altepeter, Kaleb Gomez, Camrin Burgins, Aiden Carmichael, Luke Norris, Trent Cunningham, Aiden Aspengren, Adam Cobos, Jaharri Clair, Brandin Kirk, Tyler Etes, Caiden Harris, Aaron Hernandez, Grant Daugherty, Chase Beatty, Warren Schweitzer, Aaron DeClerck, Levi Luxton, Mason Ludwig, Connor Hunley and Daniel Jensen. The team is coached by Chris Lewis, Cristian Perez, Michael Belmonte, Jeff Dickey and Dan Lundquist.

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6th Grade (6-2)

Rochelle faced Byron on Saturday, with both teams finishing the first half tied at 0-0. Byron took the first lead of the game on a 14-yard touchdown run and 2-point conversion during the third quarter. The Junior Hubs bounced back when Luke Chadwick cut through the defense for a 65-yard rushing touchdown. Rochelle trailed Byron 8-6 entering the fourth quarter.

The Junior Hubs fell behind 14-6 after Byron ran in a 2-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to extend its lead. Tyson Pavlak brought Rochelle back with a 2-yard touchdown run of his own, but the Junior Hubs were unable to convert the 2-point play. Rochelle fell to Byron 14-12. Cohen Haedt threw for 73 yards in the game, while Chadwick rushed for 109 yards on eight carries. Bo Lundquist recorded 60 receiving yards and Elijah Schweitzer totaled a team-leading six tackles.

The team includes Aidan Lopez, Braylon Wells, Cohen Haedt, Tyler Johnson, Maddox Hueramo, Zachary Johnson, Bo Lundquist, Tyson Pavlak, John Williams, Jace Spears, Luke Chadwick, AJ Milan, Tyson Carmichael, Levi McGee, Dayton Mellor, Dominick Joyce, Luke Svec, Owen Wyssbrod, Trentin Neale, Marco Powell, D’Amontae Busick, Jax Sullivan, Levi Moore, Andrew Eyster, Logan Brandt, Ryley Ginn, Sebastian Albertson, Brayden Harley, Damion Anders, Dylan Melvin, Elijah Schweitzer, Charlie Carmichael and Holden Liebhaber. The team is coached by Ryan Pelan, Ryan Haedt, Chris Harley and Mike Schweitzer.

5th Grade (8-0)

Rochelle faced Winnebago for the fifth-grade conference championship, with the Junior Hubs striking first on a 37-yard rushing touchdown from Nolan Zick during the first quarter. Rochelle extended its lead in the second quarter when Braxton Bruns found the end zone on a 15-yard rushing touchdown. Bruns then scored on the 2-point conversion to make it a 14-0 game.

The Junior Hubs scored through the air during the third quarter, with Riley Smith connecting on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Vinny Tornabene before hooking up on the 2-point conversion to put Rochelle up 22-0. Smith sealed the Junior Hub victory in the fourth quarter, rushing for a 53-yard touchdown. Mikey Chadwick ran in the 2-point conversion to ice the Rochelle win.

Rochelle defeated Winnebago 30-0 to finish the 2021 season unbeaten. Bruns rushed for 58 yards to lead the Junior Hub offense, while Smith added 54 rushing yards, Chadwick totaled 49 rushing yards and Zick recorded 47 rushing yards. Bruns led the defense with six tackles.

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