‘For the spirit of Brock:’ Rock Falls elects to play Genoa-Kingston after death of teammate, falls to Cogs

GENOA – Just hours after they received news that teammate Brock Parker died from injuries he suffered in a car crash, the players and coaches of the Rock Falls football team decided they wanted to play.

Parker, an offensive lineman and son of head coach Kevin Parker, died Friday afternoon from injuries he suffered a week ago in a car accident in rural Henry County. The Rockets decided they wanted to make the trip to Genoa-Kingston, losing to the Cogs, 41-0.

“Considering the circumstances and that our guys were willing to come out and play the game in the first place tells most of the story right there,” said Alex Leaf, who along with Bob Mitton are acting as co-head coaches of the team. “We didn’t necessarily have that conversation as a team, we just kind of felt them out in the afternoon once we got the news, and they wanted to play for the spirit of Brock.”

It was the homecoming game and senior night for the Cogs. After the game, athletic director Phil Jerbi presented Rock Falls athletic director Rich Montgomery with a check for $3,500 to give to the Parker family to help cover hospital costs.

“We talked to some of the upperclassmen, and we didn’t want to limit their reps and their opportunities because it is their senior year,” Leaf said of playing Friday night. “We got mostly positive feedback in regards to them wanting to come out here and keep their spirits high and play as a team. Brock would have wanted us to play.

G-K coach Cam Davekos said he talked to his team before the game.

“We sat down before the game and talked about how their situation is a sad, unique one,” Davekos said. “We had to make sure we had empathy for them. Just making sure we played hard on the field but picked the Rock Falls kids up and go on to the next play. I think the booster club and everybody who donated and chipped in says a lot about our community and how we come together and show support.”

The Cogs offense scored on its first six possessions of the game, starting with an 11-play, 48-yard scoring drive capped by a 6-yard, third-and-goal run by Nolan Perry. The Rockets followed with a fumble on the ensuing drive, forced by Colin Nesler and recovered by Colton Halter.

G-K scored on the first play of the next possession on a 19-yard pass from Perry to Nesler. Halter said it was good to see the offense turn around and score so quickly after a big defensive play.

“It shows our depth,” Halter said. “I can’t be more proud of everyone on our team, especially the underclassmen.”

The Rockets followed with a three-and-out, and the Cogs scored on the first play of the next possession again, this time on a 47-yard run up the left side by Brody Engel.

“We knew Genoa-Kingston was going to be a tough opponent,” Leaf said. “Given everything that was going on, we just reminded them we needed to put our best foot forward and at the end of the day we have a football game to play. We had coach Parker and Brock in our thoughts and wanted to come out here and give it our best.”

The special teams for the Cogs scored early in the second quarter when Connor Grimm blocked a kick, and Chase Engel fell on it in the end zone for a 27-0 lead.

“It’s great that all phases of the game kind of clicked tonight,” Davekos said. “I was happy for our special teams and that’s something we haven’t normally done, get some touchdowns on special teams. That was nice to see.”

The Rockets started moving the ball on the ground, with Booker Cross going 10 yards on an option. They went to him on a fourth-and-1, but the Cogs were ready and swarmed him for a loss.

Three plays later, Engel plowed in from 10 yards out for a 31-0 lead. G-K’s final score came on a 48-yard run by Jake Oates for a 41-0 lead.

The Cogs outgained the Rockets 259-32 in the first half, including 240-29 on the ground. For the game, the Cogs outgained the Rockets 324-54, and there were no second-half passing yards. No G-K player had more than seven carries, and Brody Engel led the way with 65 rushing yards.

The Cogs were coming off a 7-3 loss at Byron, and Halter said it was a good bounce back.

“We came out here with the intensity we needed,” Halter said. “We got what we needed to get done and we’re just focused on next week now.”

Eddie Carifio

Eddie Carifio

Has been the sports editor in DeKalb since 2014.