The ROCORI Spartans are headed back to the state tournament after a thrilling 22-20 win over Becker in the Section 8AAAA championship game last weekend in Monticello.

The Spartans are returning to the state tournament for the 11th time in school history and the first time since 2020. ROCORI won state championships in 2011 and 2019 and would have had a great chance to win it in 2020 but there was no state tournament held that season.

After a 5-4 2021 season that saw the Spartans' season end in the first round of the section playoffs, ROCORI returns to state in 2022 after a 6-2 regular season and playoff wins over Little Falls and Becker.

Like most ROCORI teams past and present, the Spartans are a team that relies on contributions from the top of the roster to the bottom.

Dual threat quarterback Jack Spanier has had an amazing season. The senior has passed for 1,570 yards while completing 70% of his passes with 19 touchdowns against just five interceptions. He has also rushed 85 times for 402 yards and a remarkable ten rushing touchdowns.

PHOTO: Dave Overlund, WJON
PHOTO: Dave Overlund, WJON

Hunter Nistler has pulled in 39 passes for 667 yards and 11 touchdowns and Adam Langer has caught 35 balls for 472 yards and four touchdowns. Gabe Johnson, Will Steil and Evan Acheson have also been key targets for Spanier.

Mason Dahl has paced a deep ROCORI rushing attack with 113 carries for 724 yards and eight touchdowns. In total, 21 different players have had at least one rushing attempt this season.

The Spartans averaged 37.2 points per game this season, fourth-most in Class AAAA.


The Spartans have long boasted a strong defensive tradition and this season was no different. Led by Blake Tylutki's 105 total tackles and Kaden Rausch's seven sacks, ROCORI allowed just 14 points per game, good for seventh-fewest in Class AAAA.

North Branch finished in third place in the tough Section 7AAAA with a 8-2 record. North Branch's QRF ranking actually placed them second in the section, but their head-to-head loss to Hermantown in week seven gave the Hawks the edge.

North Branch got its revenge with a 28-20 win over Hermantown in the section semifinals before beating #4 seed Cloquet 34-6 in the championship game.

ROCORI and North Branch will kick off at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 10th. The game can be heard on AM 1390 and FM 93.9 Granite City Sports and at

The winner of Thursday's game will play against the winner of Simley and Chisago Lakes on Thursday, November 17th at US Bank Stadium.

The other half of the Class AAAA bracket features Stewartville vs Hutchinson and Holy Angels vs Zimmerman.

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