Saturday, November 30, 2019

Football state championship weekend

How about a big shout out to the Rocori Spartans football team! 

Stearns County's entry into the Prep Bowl produced a state football championship yesterday when the Spartans defeated a private school conglomerate from the Twin Cities by a 22-21 score in overtime!

Rocori defeated the "SMB Wolfpack" - a mix of players from three premier private schools: St. Paul Academy, Minnehaha Academy and Blake.

The Spartans had a 6-2 regular season before rattling off five postseason wins to claim the state title. They won it on a gutsy two-point conversion play in overtime. The quarterback and receiver on that play were on the same youth baseball team, according to former St. Cloud Tech boys' basketball head coach Mike Trewick.

Rocori's head coach, James Herberg, took over the Spartans football program in 2018. His first Rocori team finished 2-8 after a 1-7 regular season, and this year's squad went 11-2.

Rocori advanced to state in 2017 and lost 20-8 in the state quarterfinals to Holy Angels. In 2016, Rocori lost in the state semifinals by a 34-30 score to Winona in a 9-4 season. They also played in the state semifinals in 2015, when they lost 19-14 to South St. Paul, also finishing 9-4. The 2014 season? They also played at state that year and lost in the state quarterfinals. The 2013 season had a 3-7 final record with a 1-1 record in the Section 8AAAA playoffs.

Rocori went 6-4 and was a section semifinalist in 2012. They won the Class 4A state title in 2011 with a 12-1 final record. They lost the season opener in 2011 to Class 5A and Section 8AAAAA finalist Brainerd by a 28-20 score and then reeled off 12 straight wins.

Rocori preceded the 2011 state title season with a 2-7 season in 2010.

Back to this season, the SMB Wolfpack entered playoffs 8-0, won the Section 5AAAA title with two wins and then won twice more in the state playoffs to land a spot in the Prep Bowl for the second year in a row. In the regular season, the Wolfpack won the Twin City-Maroon District championship.

Last year, SMB defeated Willmar 44-18 in the Prep Bowl to finish the season 13-0.

One of the SMB football captains was a no-show to receive the state runner-up trophy. Very sad!! Kids need to learn that: being a student-athlete does not make you privileged, but it is a privilege to be able to play sports.

Fun fact: in 1982, the Belgrade Redmen football team defeated St. Paul Academy in the Class C state semifinals in the Tundra bowl played at Belgrade's field.

In other Prep Bowl's nine-man state title game is underway. Hancock and Mountain Lake Area are sitting in a 14-14 tie at halftime. **Final score: Mountain Lake Area 22, Hancock 14.

Also, in Class 3A, Pierz won 28-27 over Dassel-Cokato to win a state title.

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