Coming Dec. 23 to CSN: 'Rocky Clark, The Legacy Lives On'

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Coming Dec. 23 to CSN: 'Rocky Clark, The Legacy Lives On'

It was one play that changed Rocky Clark's life forever. One play that not only affected lives of those close to Clark, but high school athletes to come as well. Tune into Comcast SportsNet on Dec. 23 for the premiere of "Rocky Clark: The Legacy Lives On".

Back in September of 2011, a promising 16-year old high school running back had no idea his life would change forever as he ran onto the field. When Rocky Clark began that matchup against Oak Forest High School, he didn't know he was just one tackle away from two broken vertebrae in his neck and a devastating spinal cord injury that would change his life forever.

"I never saw how this happened," Rocky's coach Greg Walder said about the injury. "I can see the play in my head. It is a normal tackle. There were ten hits in that game that were more vicious than that hit. I don't know how it happened."

But it did happen. And yet it wasn't enough to take away Rocky's faith and determination. With his mother Annette by his side, Rocky went on to graduate from Eisenhower High School. He even attended junior college at South Suburban College and helped coach his old high school football team, all while receiving constant medical attention.

In 2010, his story became a national headline after his school's 5 million insurance policy reached its cap.

"I got the letter. It was a two-sentence letter. It said Rocky's insurance was gone," Annette explained. "I let things upset me and he wouldn't. I said the nurse care is gone now. When he sees me upset, he would tell me 'it's going to be alright', but he thought he would be taken care of for the rest of his life."

Just 16 months later, Rocky passed away at the age of 27.

"(Rocky) said, 'Mama... I love you' and I said 'I love you too,'" Annette recalls of her son's final days. "I talked to the lord and I had asked him many times before to let me have him because he would have been gone and he would give him right back to me, but this time was for Rocky to go ahead on and I said to the lord 'thy will be done.'

My son had to get hurt and die to try to make a point. That makes me angry every time I think about it. My children were supposed to bury me."

Although his time on Earth was lost far too soon, Rocky's story and the determination he showed even in the hardest of times left a stronger impact in just his 27 years than many do in a lifetime.

"He was a guy you could go up to and talk to," Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett recalled. "He would tell you the whole incident, about his life. He's one of those guys that just moved me when I spoke to him."

Now you can remember and celebrate Rocky's life on Comcast SportsNet with special airings on Dec. 23 at 7:00 p.m., Dec. 25 at 9:30 p.m., Dec. 31 at 9:00 p.m., and Jan. 5 and 7 at 7:00 p.m.

91 Days to Kickoff: Ridgewood

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91 Days to Kickoff: Ridgewood

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Jul. 31, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: Ridgewood

Head coach: Don Gelsomino

Assistant coaches: Matt Walsh (DC/LB), Pat Rossi (OL), Vince Fanelli (DB), Miguel Villegas (RB), Ryan Patrick (DL), Paul Fekring (OL)

How they fared in 2016: 7-3 (5-0 Metro Suburban Red), lost to Rochelle in Class 5A opening-round action.

[MORE: 92 Days to Kickoff - Plano]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 – Noble Pritzker

Sept. 1 – Maine East

Sept. 8 – @ Riverside Brookfield

Sept. 15 - Glenbard South

Sept. 22 - @ Elmwood Park

Sept. 29 – @ Chicago Christian

Oct. 6 - Aurora Central Catholic

Oct. 13 - @ Guerin Prep

Oct. 20 - Walther Christian

Biggest storyline: Can the Rebels win a third straight conference title and return to the playoffs?

Names to watch this season: Senior WR Marco Vitale, Senior OL/DL Jose Bodon

Biggest holes to fill: The Rebels will need to find a new quarterback to lead the passing attack with the graduation of Richie Zacharius.

EDGY's early take: The Rebels bring back a good core of starters from last season, including seven on defense. Look for Ridgewood to again be a factor in the Metro Suburban Conference and beyond this season.

92 Days to Kickoff: Plano

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92 Days to Kickoff: Plano

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Jul. 31, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: Plano

Head coach: Brad Kunz

How they fared in 2016: 7-3 (4-1 Interstate 8 Large), lost to Manteno in the 4A  opening round action.

2017 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 25 – Johnsburg

Sept. 1 – @ Harvard

Sept. 8 – Herscher

Sept. 15 - @ Sandwich

Sept. 22 - Manteno

Sept. 29 – @ Coal City

Oct. 6 - Streator

Oct. 13 - Reed-Custer

Oct. 20 - @ Westmont

Biggest storyline: Can the Reapers reload?

Names to watch this season: Senior DB Mauricio Perez Senior DB Alec Chavez

Biggest holes to fill: The Reapers will need to replace 20 graduated starters from a season ago, and that group also included several multi-year starters for Plano.

EDGY's Early Take: The Reapers no question have work to do this summer, yet head coach Brad Kunz and staff always finds a way for Plano to compete in the Interstate 8 conference and beyond.