Harlem's James Cooper Jr. leads state in passing by 200 yards

Matt Trowbridge
Rockford Register Star
Harlem's James Cooper Jr. throws a pass against Prairie Ridge at Harlem High School on Saturday, April 17, 2021, in Machesney Park.

Harlem senior James Cooper Jr. led the state in passing by more than 200 yards, according to Maxpreps. Cooper finished with 1,833 yards in six games. Justin Kowalak of Crystal Lake South was a distant second at 1,630 yards.

"That means a lot to me. It's something I've been trying to do since I started playing high school football and I finally achieved it," said Cooper, who led Harlem to a 6-0 record, it's first perfect football record. The Huskies' previous best was 6-0-1 in 1937.

Cooper also finished as the NIC-10's all-time leader in passing yards (6,500), TDs (74), completions (469) and TD to interception rate (nearly 3-to-1 with 74 TDs vs. 25 interceptions). His 191 completions as a junior were the single-season record, two more than Jace Bankord of Belvidere North.

"Those mean everything," Cooper said. "I've been doing this since I was little and knew eventually I was going to have to come to high school and perform the way I knew I could. All of my training I went through all of these years, I was able to finally put it into play these last four years of high school."

More:Once on the heavier side, Harlem's QB is now breaking NIC-10 records

Matt Trowbridge

Harlem No. 3 in final football rankings

Harlem (6-0), the only undefeated Class 7A team, finished No. 3 in the final Associated Press football poll. That is the first time the Huskies have ever been ranked in the final poll. Chicago Mt. Carmel (4-2) was No. 1 and Wheaton North (5-1) No. 2. Other area ranked teams were Boylan (3-0), No. 3 in Class 5A, Genoa-Kingston (3-0), No. 6 in 4A, Byron (4-2), No. 8 in 3A, and co-No. 1s in 1A, Lena-Winslow (4-1) and Aquin (6-0).

More:Chicago Bears honor Harlem coach Moynihan's ‘tactical approach'

State AAU girls basketball titles

The Midwest Wildcats, based out of Rockford, won the eighth-grade state title and the Rockford Heat the ninth-grade title at the Under Armour Illinois State championships Sunday at the UW Health Sports Factory. The Rockford heat were crushed in the 17-under title game 62-29 by Full Package out of the Chicago suburbs. Auburn junior Zhakyla Evans was the only Heat player in double figures with 12 points.

"If I was open, I took the open shot," Evans said. "If I saw I needed to go to the basket, I went to the basket. I did what I felt was best.

"We met them in the first game of our last tournament and lost, but it wasn't by as much as it was today. They are a good team. We already knew that. Their shots were falling and ours just weren't."

More:Rockford Heat top Midwest Wildcats in battle at state AAU girls basketball tournament

North's Cummings picks Concordia

Belvidere North cheerleader Meghan Cummings will sign to cheer for Concordia University in Chicago on Thursday in the forum room at North at 3:30 p.m.

Matt Trowbridge: mtrowbridge@rrstar.com; @matttrowbridge