Amite High football coach Alden Foster refers to linebacker Juwaan Rogers as a coach’s dream.
And for good reason. The 6-foot, 228-pound Rogers is a two-time all-state player with more than 140 tackles this season.
It’s a different dream - one Rogers shares with his teammates - that will be on display this week. The Warriors (11-1) travel to Marksville (10-3) for a Class 3A semifinal game, their first since 2004.
“We got to the quarterfinals last year, and not making it beyond that really hurt,” Rogers said. “So we came back determined to do better this year. We came together; we worked hard to get stronger and became a better team.”
Amite is a Tangipahoa Parish football program with a rich tradition of deep playoff runs that includes Class 3A titles in 1994, 1999 and 2004.
Because his grew up in Mississippi and moved to Amite as a fifth-grader, Rogers had to learn about the Warriors’ football tradition. Foster said the senior, who also plays fullback, already had the key ingredient needed for success.
“Juwaan is one of those guys who has a lot of physical ability,” Foster said. “He’s got speed and he’s strong. He has the thing you can’t teach ? a real passion for the game.
“He loves to hit people and he loves playing the game of football. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to get better. Not every player has that in them.”
Every team dreaming about great things has a defining game or moment. For the Warriors, that came in Week 5 when they took a 35-0 victory over last year’s Class 4A champion, Franklinton.
“The game with Franklinton was huge for us,” Rogers said. “The two years before that they beat us pretty good, and they went to the championship game after that.
“We played real well and dominated them. That gave us a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season.”
Since then, Amite has won seven straight and allowed no more than three touchdowns in a game. While Rogers is defensive leader, he also is a blocker for an offense led by quarterback Reginald Porter.
“Because I’m a senior, I’ve taken things personally,” Rogers said. “On defense, I’m the guy who makes sure everybody is lined up where they need to be. On offense, my job is to make it easier for the other guys to make plays.”
Through a week of game-planning and film study, Rogers has developed respect for Marksville, a No. 16 seed and one of the biggest surprises of the playoffs.
“Marksville ? they’re a good team,” Rogers said. “They’re physical, and they like to run the ball. That’s the kind of team I like to play. They come right at you.”
Arkansas State and several state colleges, including the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana Tech and the University of Louisiana at Monroe, are among the schools recruiting Rogers.
Rogers carries a 2.8 GPA and still needs to raise his ACT score to meet NCAA standards. Foster hopes Rogers doesn’t get to take the ACT again on the next testing date - Dec. 10 - the date of the 3A title game in New Orleans.
“That would be the best plan,” Foster said.