Rocks win big in playoff opener

High School Football

A punt-block return touchdown by senior Donovan Rogers late in the 4th quarter helped seal the 28-18 win for Rock Island.

“I got off the ball and I saw one of my teammates, Jaden VanCoillie, tipped it,” said Rogers. “I caught the ball, broke like eight to ten tackles, saw the end zone, broke out, celebrated with my teammates, and played the next play.”

The senior linebacker broke several tackles at the line of scrimmage before bursting through for the 36-yard score.

“…there’s no way I was going down,” Rogers said. “It’s playoffs, baby. There’s no mistakes in the playoffs. I just saw the end zone, went to the end zone and scored, celebrated with my teammates. No way I was going down.”

“Super proud of our kids. They never gave up,” said head coach Ben Hammer, who secured his first playoff win since joining the program in 2017. “We kind of got in a jam a little bit in the second half. Huge play by Donovan Rogers. And defense really stepped. And then offense did a nice job of running the ball in the fourth quarter. Proud of our kids, and ready to go to practice Monday.”

“We came in thinking ‘we got to win,” added junior receiver Perry Slater, who scored on a 62-yard touchdown catch in the first half. “It’s them or us. We don’t want to go home yet. We want to play another game for our seniors. We love it out here, love them guys. It’s probably the funnest you’ll ever play with them. We’re gonna miss them.”

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