Zero losses in district competition allowed the Junior High Hornets to claim the title “district champions.” In their final win of the season, the Rochelle Junior High Hornets didn’t hold back the intensity and desire to win and took down the visiting Panther Creek Panthers, 34-18. After compiling 71 yards in the first quarter without any touchdowns accounted for, the Hornets stepped the momentum up a notch in the second quarter with a 35-yard TD run by Gage Rose. The extra point kick by Zach Pitcox was good for two and left the Hornets trailing the Panthers, 12-8 going into the second half. In the third quarter, key blocks by quarterback James Baker and half back Rex Stidham allowed fullback Andrew Engdahl to make a 35-yard run setting up a 14-yard TD pass from Baker to Trey Clevenger. Baker later shuttled a five-yard pass to Engdahl which culminated in the third TD of the night. With victory in sight, the young Hornets pushed through a 40-yard TD run by Engdahl in the fourth quarter which was followed by a successful Pitcox PAT. Stidham then contributed a 25-yard TD to end the Hornets’ scoring. A 60-yard pass from Baker to Pitcox was called back in the fourth quarter due to a controversial call (push in the back). The Hornets completed 457 total offensive passing and rushing yards in their match against Panther Creek. Bo Stuart was the leading Hornet tackler with seven tackles. Panther Creek had one interception but didn’t score due to an open field tackle by Rollie Evans. In the final minutes of play in the third quarter, Rose made a key tackle that forced a Panther Creek fourth down punt which was blocked by Pitcox. Clevenger almost sacked the Panther Creek quarterback and forced a bad throw which was intercepted by Rose and set up the last Hornet score. “One of the main goals of Hornet football this season, like last season, was to continue to develop the ‘team’ concept,” said Rochelle coach David Roueche. “To quote head varsity coach Tommy Meredith, this was a ‘Team’45 vs. Me’0 season.’ “Everyone involved with the team made contributions. Substitute players entering a ball game are assumed to be a ‘less-than-the-best’. Not this year. When our Junior High Hornets rotated into the fray of the game, both intensity and the level of competition increased. “There were numerous examples where the players on the field rotated from position to position. When someone was asked to step up, there was never any hesitation. The Junior High Hornets ended the season with a 7-1 record. “Teams that we have been competing against have had at least one or two players with speed. Although speed has not been one of our strong points, we were able to compensate with execution and depth. “Most of the season, the first quarter of play was a period of adjustment, usually resulting in low first half scoring. The Junior High Hornets will be smaller in size next year, but plan on continuing to play like champions,” said Roueche.