Freeport Aquin alum and longtime fan Mary Sholve is still soaking it in.
“To see the kids pull through the way they did, is unreal. It's just tremendous," Scholve said.
Hundreds of frenzied supporters packed into Aquin's gymnasium Sunday night, to salute their 2A state champions. School leaders praised the team's domination in both the classroom and the playing field in bringing home the school's third state trophy.
“It's like an honor. It's a privilege to play for them. It's such a storied program and it's just an honor to play," Lucas Morhardt said.
But Aquin isn't the only Stephenson County state champion. Just a few miles down Highway 75, the 1A Dakota Indians also proudly put the area on the state map.
“Everybody knows the Northern part of Illinois now, with Dakota number one and Aquin number one. It brings everybody together," Sheila Dornink said.
And with the titles still fresh in their minds, both Aquin and Dakota residents believe they've also scored a touchdown for their respective community profiles.
“As people move into this area, they are checking out the background of schools. They see what they've done, not only academically but also in the celebration. It's community spirit," Dornink said.
“Aquin is tremendously high academically, and I think that adds such an asset to the fact that the kids get out there and play and have something to fall back on," Scholve said.
Two area successes on the football field, which residents hope will propel even more community successes, and growth in future seasons.