ELMHURST – Late in the second quarter Friday, IC Catholic Prep’s Kareem Parker picked up one last unexpected attempt to complete a rare first-half trifecta.
Parker nearly took advantage of the extra opportunity, showcasing his speed on the kickoff return but falling short of collecting another highlight-reel touchdown.
Still, Parker flashed his vast potential with a number of big plays in all three phases to spark the Knights to a 55-14 victory over Riverside-Brookfield at Lewis Stadium in Elmhurst.
Parker fell short of scoring a TD in all three phases of the game, but his impact helped the Knights (7-0) build a dominating 35-0 lead. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound sophomore opened the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown grab. He also snared an interception and returned the pick 36 yards for a touchdown with 3.2 seconds left in the first quarter
Parker, who plays wide receiver, safety and returns punts and kickoffs, nearly added a kickoff return score in the final seconds of the second quarter before getting tripped up to go with a penalty call that negated the 20-yard return.
“I was just thinking on that kickoff to go into halftime, but I did want that touchdown,” Parker said. “But I was happy how I played.”
A lanky and athletic player, Parker is quickly establishing himself as a player to watch in Chicagoland over the next few years. He caught four passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, but his interception return for a touchdown helped turn the game into a rout.
“The defense forced the quarterback to make a bad read, so it came right to me and I took the interception right to the end zone,” Parker said. “It felt amazing for the team to come out strong and prove that we’re IC. It feels special to help this team. It’s very special to be a part of the IC program.”
IC Catholic sophomore quarterback Dennis Mandala had a night to remember, tossing five touchdown passes to five different players in the first half.
In two-plus quarters, Mandala passed for 270 yards and six touchdowns. Denzell Gibson hauled in TD catches of 15 an 10 yards.
“It’s a great feeling to come here and show people what I can do at quarterback,” Mandala said. “The offensive line gave me the time to throw the ball. Kareem really helped. He’s a great player and is definitely going far in his football career.”
The Knights, who beat the Bulldogs 51-0 in the spring, thrilled the large home crowd with numerous big plays on offense to go with a strong defensive effort.
The Bulldogs (5-2) moved the ball early in the game before falling apart late in the first quarter, when the Knights intercepted two passes in a 61-second span to gain control of the game.
“We gave them a couple of gifts, spotted them 14 points which is tough to overcome no matter who you play, but especially an elite program like them,” Riverside-Brookfield coach Brendan Curtin said. "