ROCHESTER — The defending Class 4A state champions from Rochester continued their statewide dominance with a 56-14 win over Herrin Saturday in the state football quarterfinals.
The Rockets (12-0) scored two quick touchdowns and rolled to a 49-7 halftime advantage over the Tigers (10-2).
“It is hard to mimic their team speed and quarterback in practice,” said Herrin coach Jason Karnes. “Their team speed overall and how they play was just too much for us.”
Nic Baker threw for more than 400 yards in the first half and sat out in the second half. The Rockets enjoyed a continuous clock after halftime.
“In my 12 years as head coach, that’s the best high school football team that we’ve seen,” Karnes said. “That is the best quarterback I’ve coached against and seen in high school in a long time.”
After Rochester scored a pair of touchdowns to make it a 12-0 game in the first quarter, the Tigers fought back.
Jase Gosha ripped off a 56-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, and Herrin pulled to within 12-7. But Baker and the Rockets proceeded to score 37 points in the final 10 minutes of the second quarter to put the game out of reach.
“That team can score in 30 or 40 seconds,” Karnes said. “You do it in two plays, boom, they can score with the no huddle. We’re the type of team where you can’t fall behind.”
Gosha, who already held the Herrin single-season record for touchdowns, rushed for 206 yards and set the Herrin rushing yards record as well.
“It is hard to say if he’s the best we’ve ever had, but he’s very good,” Karnes said. “He missed some time this year, and I can honestly say he’s in the top three running backs I’ve ever coached. I’m super proud of him, but it’s a team effort, and our guys up front have done a great job.”
Gage Wells, a senior offensive lineman, has started every game at the varsity level since he entered high school.
“Jase Gosha broke two records, and Tate Johnson set a record with nine interceptions,” Karnes said. “But today was Gage Wells’ 47th straight varsity start. He ended his freshman season by losing to Rochester in 13 games and ended his senior year by losing to Rochester up here today. That’s very impressive to play 47 straight games and have that kind of success. He has made a lasting impression on our program.”