For Rogers, Vicksburg full of potential

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 17, 2014

Vicksburg head football coach Marcus Rogers leads the team during practice Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Vicksburg head football coach Marcus Rogers leads the team during practice Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Vicksburg was Marcus Rogers’ dream job. 

It was all he could think about as he taught health class at Murrah High School, toiling away as if it were another day with the uncertainty of his future perched firmly in the back of his mind. The administration at VHS said they would make a decision on a new head coach by the end of the weekend, but it was a Tuesday and still his phone had not buzzed. But Rogers didn’t panic.

“My father instilled in me at a young age, what’s meant for you no man can take away. He also instilled in me if I claim it, then it’s mine,” he said. “All I had been telling everybody was this is my dream job and I’m just waiting on the call.”

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When his phone finally rang, Rogers couldn’t stop the smile that slowly crept across his face. The former Murrah offensive coordinator was headed to Vicksburg.

The new opportunity serves as a second chance and fresh start for Rogers, who was the head coach at Wooddale High School in Memphis in 2009 and 2010 before going to Murrah.

“Back in 2009, I was a first-year football head coach. I was a head baseball coach for seven years, so I’ve led, it just wasn’t as many people or dealing with as many parents,” Rogers said. “We were successful, but I was trying to do too much. I get home at 9, 10 o’clock, neglect my wife. It was so much I was trying to do and putting into it.”

But Rogers has learned to delegate responsibilities and condense his time. It was a hard lesson, but one that has paid off as he commands his new locker room at VHS.

“As far as coming into a new locker room and just dealing with a lot of different personalities, I feel like my experience over the years dealing with people, and my people skills are very good, that I can relate to kids as well as 10 different coaching personalities too,” he said.

Some of his new players were undoubtedly skeptical that a guy who used to patrol the sidelines at Murrah would be their new leader. The two schools were involved in a heated scuffle in 2012 that resulted in numerous suspensions and brooding tensions between the two.

Vicksburg shifted to Class 5A the following season while Murrah stayed at 6A. The schools haven’t crossed paths on the football field since.

“That’s all people want to think about, but that’s the lasting impression they have because the teams haven’t played since then. It wasn’t that many, probably about five or six kids, that said, ‘That’s that Murrah coach.’” Rogers said of his first day at practice. “I said, ‘No, this is the Vicksburg coach.’ I was at Murrah. It’s not where you’ve been. It’s where you’re at. I had to instill that into the kids.”

If there’s one overarching theme to Rogers’ coaching approach, it’s one of family. He has adeptly developed a relationship with his players that extends far beyond X’s and O’s and it’s shown up on the practice field.

“These kids, at the end of the day, they want to feel loved. They want to feel cared about,” he said. “They don’t want to be drug down. They want you to care about them.”

Doing that instills a confidence and trust in him and his staff that resonates throughout the roster and pays for itself on game day. If the kids love him, they’ll love playing for him. If they love playing for him, they’ll go to extremes to make him proud.

It’s a team atmosphere that will come in handy as the Gators build on a playoff season from a year ago. By putting his players’ needs off the field first, Rogers is able to make them better on it.

“At the end of the day, when I’m needing something, when I need a big play, when the going gets tough, when we’re down six with a minute and a half left, they’ll run through a wall for you,” Rogers said. “They’ll do whatever for you, because they know you care about them and you love them.”