Brooks running back Dakota Starks leads his team off the filed at halftime against Harper. | Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times Media
Much to the delight of cheering fans at Stagg Stadium, Gov. Pat Quinn took time out of his busy schedule to take in the Heartland Conference championship between Brooks and Harper Saturday evening.
Quinn was fulfilling a promise made to Brooks assistant coach Kenneth Jennings, who helped get the "Rocky Clark Bill" passed, according to Quinn. "Kenneth was very instrumental in getting the bill passed and I appreciate what he did," Quinn said. The law requires schools to provide catastrophic injury insurance for athletes.
The two teams met for the fourth consecutive year to vie for the conference crown, with Harper claiming the first two and Brooks evening the score with Saturday's 17-6 victory. Quinn said he could not have picked a better game. "This is what it's all about; no politics, just enjoying two good 6-1 teams fighting for a conference championship."
The Eagles scored first on a 43-yard touchdown run by Dakota Starks that was followed by a 39-yard Jesus Miranda field goal with 11:49 remaining in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead. Brooks grew the advantage to 17-0 when Luther Lockwood returned the second-half opening kickoff 80 yards for a score.
Harper got a touchdown late in the fourth quarter from Sandillo Wright on a 17-yard touchdown reception from quarterback David Harvey.
Brooks coach James Brown said having the governor in attendance made the game extra special. "You could see the kids were excited," Brown said. "It's not everyday the governor stops in to see your team play football. We feel we are on the verge of doing something great over here and things like this only lets us know we are moving in the right direction."
Lockwell gained 115 yards on 18 carries and the defense that limited the Cardinals to 78 total yards of offense was spearheaded by Zeriam Jackson (eight tackles, interception) and Darien Walker (seven tackles, interception).
"We could not get anything going," Harper coach Marris Carroll said. "It just wasn't our day."