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Memory of Mark Rego looms large over Union-Heritage football game

Both teams held moment of silence pregame

By Andy Buhler, Columbian Staff Writer
Published: October 12, 2018, 5:15pm

The moment’s significance was not lost on Giovanny Rojo. Union was on the 1-yard line when the senior lineman lined up as a running back, took a hand-off, in an unconventional designed play, and rushed in for the team’s first touchdown of the night.

Not only was it Rojo’s first career touchdown, but it was also a few weeks in the works and, according to Rojo, something Union offensive line coach Mark Rego wanted to see come to fruition.

Rego, who died Saturday after a long battle with cancer, loomed large over McKenzie Stadium on Thursday evening. Heritage wore red stickers on its helmet that said “Rego,” a move coach Matt Gracey said was to honor and pay respect to a man who gave so much service to the community. The Union student section displayed a large pink banner labeled “Rego Strong.”

— Andy Buhler (@AndyBuhler) October 12, 2018

And before the Star-Spangled Banner, both teams met in the middle of the field for a moment of silence to honor the life of Rego, who coached in Evergreen Public Schools for just under 30 years.

Evergreen, which played at McKenzie Stadium right before Union and Heritage, wore black “Rego” stickers on their helmets. Rego’s first coaching job was as a volunteer assistant at Evergreen, his alma mater, in 1989.

Union coach Rory Rosenbach said he was moved by the gestures, and received something from many schools in the area this past week.

“Just sort of talks about the community in the Evergreen School District that we compete against each other but when it comes down to it we’re all family, we take care of each other,” Rosenbach said.

“Way bigger than this game of football, that’s for sure.”

Rojo said Rego wanted to see a lineman score. Rego had a personality that made those around him gravitate his way, Rosenbach said. With his offensive linemen, the connection was especially deep.

Before Rojo checked in for the touchdown carry, he said Rosenbach told him, “get this one for Rego.”

“I said I would,” Rojo said. “It feels good, at least I know he’s watching up there, telling us ‘good game,’ because every game is going to be for him no matter what the scoreboard is.”

Columbian Staff Writer