CHAMPAIGN — The winningest senior class in Unity High history couldn’t add to its record Friday.
The Rockets were unable to maintain a first-half lead and lost 42-12 to two-time IHSA state champion Aurora Christian in the Class 3A title game at Memorial Stadium.
“One of these days, we’ll get this thing done,” said Unity coach Scott Hamilton, who has won 82 percent of his games at the school but is 0-4 in state championship contests.
“Some people will say we can’t win the big game, but there are a lot of people that would trade places with us. This (loss) beats not being here.”
Hamilton sees no need to overhaul any part of his program. Unity had more first downs (12-11) and kept the ball more than two-thirds of the game (32:12 out of 48 minutes).
“I believe in our staff. I believe in our kids. I believe in how we prepare,” Hamilton said. “We have to continue to do what we do and grind and grind. I believe in our program.”
Unity’s Class of 2013 finished with 47 wins for the past four seasons.
On the opposing sideline was a coach who is no stranger to winning. Don Beebe played in six Super Bowls during his NFL career and has guided the Eagles to consecutive state titles.
“Nine years ago when I got this job, I didn’t know if I’d be around this long,” Beebe said. “Every coach is a mentorship. I took it because God called me to mentor kids through football.”
Aurora Christian, ranked third in the final state poll, increased a two-point lead in the final 8:01 by scoring 28 unanswered points. It wasn’t until the next-to-last Eagles touchdown had been scored, and his team led 35-12, that Beebe relaxed.
“That’s when I said, ‘I think we’ll pull this thing out,’ ” he said.