By Mark Maxwell
The Sterling Newman Central Catholic Comets won their fifth state title on Saturday, defeating the Staunton Bulldogs 40-13 at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb.
Comets Jake Snow (17 rushes, 172 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Dillan Heffelfinger both rushed for two touchdowns in the first half, orchestrating touchdowns on five consecutive possessions to begin the game. Newman Central broke a record for rushing yards in the Class 2A championship game, racking up 425 yards of rushing offense.
The Bulldogs were keeping pace in the early minutes as Marcus Sitko notched a receiving and a rushing touchdown in the opening quarter. However, after needing two conversions on fourth down to keep a scoring drive alive, the Comets defense eventually caught up to the Bulldogs and kept them at bay for the remainder of the game. Staunton knocked on the doorstep of the goal line several times, but couldn't convert after the first two scores of the game.
Bulldogs quarterback Jake Bruhn appeared to suffer a knee injury in the second quarter but remained in the game until the closing minute when a botched snap sailed over his head and was recovered by the Comets.
Comets coach Mike Papoccia extended his record to 286-91, including five state titles and two second place finishes in 34 years of coaching. Papoccia is sixth all-time with wins at the same program in Illinois high school football.