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A special friendship between Ohio’s best football player and a janitor at his high school

Posted at 8:14 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 11:57:58-05

ST. BERNARD, Ohio — Last week, Roger Bacon High School senior Corey Kiner was named the top high school football player in the state of Ohio.

There’s more to this young man, though, than football.

He might be the first winner of the Mr. Football award to thank his school’s janitors during his acceptance speech.

"Nobody has more [Roger] Bacon spirit than Jeff,” said Kiner.

Kiner was referring to Jeff Rapking, the custodian who has made a big impact on his time at the high school.

"I say 'There's #22, Corey,’” said Rapking, who has been a custodian at Roger Bacon for more than 35 years.

"If there's days where I'm sad or mad, I see Jeff and he says 'There goes 22,’” explained Kiner. “My frown turns to a smile instantly."

Rapking is intellectually disabled but has never let that keep him from his work.

"I take trays to the kitchen and clean the floors and tables,” Rapking said.

Rapking is known as Roger Bacon High School’s biggest football fan. He’s also a big fan of Corey Kiner.

“Corey is so good. He scores a lot of touchdowns,” said Rapking.

Rapking has seen 35 of his birthdays come and go at Roger Bacon, but last year’s may be the most memorable.

"That was nice,” recalled Rapking.

"Jeff puts a smile on my face,” said Kiner. “To be able to put a smile on his face meant the world to me.”

Kiner had a shirt made with Rapking’s name on it, along with the school logo. He got every one of Roger Bacon’s football players to sign it.

That was the first time Kiner gave Rapking a shirt, but it wasn't the last.

“It's been a tradition at Roger Bacon for a very long time,” explained Assistant Athletic Director Brandon Spaeth. “Every senior presents a staff member at Roger Bacon with their jersey.”

“I was just thinking, how happy would it make Jeff if I gave him my jersey?” said Kiner.

Kiner gave his jersey to Rapking during the 2020 season. Rapking wore it at a Roger Bacon football game.

“I love it,” said Rapking. “Twenty-two, that was his number. Corey.”

Life is not always about the awards we win, but instead, the people who believed in us along the way.

“[Jeff is the] first person to say ‘Good job’ and ‘There goes 22’ every day. So I let him be ‘22’ for the day,” said Kiner.

Kiner is scheduled to sign his National Letter of Intent with Louisiana State University (LSU) on Wednesday, and Rapking said he hopes to see Kiner play in college someday soon.