Josh Rogers may not become a widely-acclaimed film critic, but the Silverdale Baptist Academy standout is a master film-watcher for critiquing his own body of work on the football field.
Instrumental in the Seahawks’ drive to the 2012 Class 1A playoffs, Rogers was a dominant dual-threat player, rushing for more than 1,000 yards and recording 60-plus more tackles than any of his teammates.
“Last year was thrilling,” said Rogers, a running back and linebacker just days from starting his senior season.
The Seahawks opened with two non-descript wins over Clay County and Community, but stumbled badly in another one-sided loss to District 5-A rival Boyd-Buchanan, 42-6.
Silverdale reeled off seven straight victories – including a pivotal, 16-14, win over Copper Basin that put the season on a remarkably positive path – and sailed into the Class 2A playoffs having won nine of 10 games.
In a first-round road game at Hampton, the Seahawks battered the Bulldogs, 41-8, as Rogers rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns in the only win for Silverdale in four playoff appearances that set up a second-round game with Grace Christian Academy.
The Knoxville-based Rams escaped with a 28-20 win to end the Seahawks’ bid for a state title.
But Rogers ended his late-season offensive surge with 138 yards on eight carries and two more scores. In his last seven games, Rogers rushed for at least 100 yards and scored at least one touchdown in six.
When the dust settled and the final statistics were tabulated, Rogers could see his superlative work on paper, something he had viewed week after week on film throughout the season.
For the season Rogers gained 1,086 yards on 118 carries with 10 touchdowns. Add 105 yards in pass receiving and he had 1,191 yards of total offense and 13 touchdowns.
Only Matt McCulley, also a running back/linebacker, outgained Rogers with 1,224 yards of offense and 14 touchdowns.
Rogers, a 5-foot-11-inch, 185-pound personification of doggedness, was a picture of consistency, got stronger as the season progressed and knew why his junior season turned out to be worthy of wide acclaim.
What makes him tick football-wise?
“Watching film,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing, and recognizing what they (opponents) do.”
A 4-6 campaign in 2011 mandated changes in Rogers’ preparation plan.
“That wasn’t good,” he said of the below .500 record. “My junior year I needed to do some things differently and coach (Tim) Couch (defensive coordinator) told me I needed to start watching more film. Now I watch more film than I watch SportsCenter. It has paid off.”
So, Rogers used the proven method for making good grades – he has a 3.9 grade-point average and is academically qualified for college admission – to make good plays on the football field: study, study, study.
And study a little more.
“I’m sitting pretty (academically),” Rogers said. “I’m about working hard in school and getting out here on the football field and working the same way.”
Seahawks coach Al Rogers, who is not related to Josh but is the father of senior tight end Colton and freshman running back/linebacker Christian, says Josh’s improvement may boil down to one key factor – his love for the game.
“He’s never a half-speed kid,” the coach said. “It’s always all or none with him. He’s very tenacious and wants to play the best he can possibly play. Josh has proved himself as a leader. The other guys rely on Josh rely on when it comes to trust and leadership.”
Rogers and McCulley are back for the 2013 campaign, and that’s good news for the Seahawks.
Gone is quarterback Spencer Mossburg and last year’s backup, junior Nathan Keylon, is preparing to take over behind center. Mossburg helped the Seahawks reach the football playoffs and the state championship baseball game.
Veteran senior offensive line starters Ben Bower, Colton Rogers, the team’s leading receiver in 2012, and Aubrey Shamblin and junior Jonathan Sanders also return to lead the two talented backs toward more yardage this year. Three other seniors – Tristan Huggins, Matt Millard and Lincoln Phillips – provide even more talent at skill positions.
In the eight-game winning streak leading up to the Grace Christian matchup, Silverdale averaged 35.5 points while holding opponents to 14.9 per game.
While reaching the postseason for the second time in program history, the first came in 2007, achieving total regular-season success this time around the Seahawks need to clear what has become a gigantic hurdle – beating three-time defending district champion Boyd-Buchanan.
The two rivals have played four times in district showdowns and the Buccaneers have won them all, outscoring the Seahawks, 171-13. The margin of victory in those games has not dipped below 40 points.
“We face Boyd in the last week of the season,” Rogers said. “I plan on us being 2-0 and them being 2-0 in the district. Last year we faced them early and from Week 3 to Week 10 we were a whole different team.”
In a four-team district, the title almost surely will come down to the Seahawks/Buccaneers finale. The Bucs, who are unbeaten in district play over the last four seasons, won last year’s game in a breeze.
“I’m really happy about how our schedule panned out this year,” Rogers said. “We were playing our best football late last season and we have to be at our best this year because they’re always contenders. That game is something for us to work toward.”
Coach Rogers and his counterpart at Boyd-Buchanan, Grant Reynolds, clearly understand the upside of scheduling nine games as a prelude to what is likely to be a district title faceoff on Nov. 1.
“At our coaches meeting, we talked and we had both Week 6 and Week 10 open,” Rogers said. “I asked him about it and he agreed. We said this should be a great time for us to play.
“It’s two big rivals, two great Christian schools and I think the world of their coaching staff. Who knows, it could be a much bigger decision than just a district championship.”
While Josh Rogers aspires to play college football, he wants to stay laser-focused on his last season at Silverdale before turning his attention to recruiting.
With a large dose of confidence, Rogers said his personal goals and those of the team are achievable, but they won’t come easy though.
“I’d like to do better than I did last year,” Rogers said, “but if we can go farther as a team in the playoffs and I didn’t do as well (statistically) as an individual I would be just as happy with that.
“I’d like to win more ballgames than have the best stats in the city.”
That sounds like a leader any team could trust.
(E-mail Larry Fleming @firstname.lastname@example.org)