The sixth-year Tiger coach has preached becoming a program since he took over the team in 2007 and led the Temple to its best season last year. A win on Friday will go a long way for the Tigers (1-3, 1-1 Region 5-AA) continuing to build and improve.
"Every time we play, it's big for us. We're trying to build a program, and every step that's a positive step for us is a step in the right direction. I believe in our kids, I believe in our program and you've got to win games to be where you want to be. Right now, we haven't taken the next step. Our kids practiced hard [Tuesday], and if we can just be consistent and not turn the football over and make tackles, we'll have a chance to win and we'll have a chance just about every Friday," Rogers said.
The Greenwave (1-3, 1-1) come in with an identical record, but they are coming off one of their biggest wins in recent school history, as they knocked off Jordan, 48-14. It was the first time Spencer has scored at least 40 points since the 2007 season finale.
Led by a new coach in former Shaw standout Calvin Arnold, a three-year starter at quarterback and last week's Columbus Ledger-Enquirer Player of the Week, Damarkus Robinson, there is a different attitude at Spencer this year.
"They're a good football team," Rogers said. "Their tailback is a good player, their quarterback — this will be the third time of us seeing him, he played his first year at Jordan and his second year at Spencer — I'd go out and say he's probably one of the top two quarterbacks in the region just because he's played a lot of snaps. Defensively, they've got some size and run well. Their new coach, he's just done a good job with them."
The Tigers will get a boost in the return of senior split back Myles Simmons, who had to sit out last week's game. But the real struggle this year has been playing without experienced depth. As the season goes on, the younger players will be expected to step up.
"We're dinged up. One of the things that's unique, I guess, this year as opposed to last year, when we got dinged up we had some kids with some playing experience that were able to step in. This year, we get one or two dinged up and we've got freshmen that have to step in and play. It is what it is. We can sit there and wish 'Woulda, coulda shoulda,' but they come to practice. It's our job to show them what to do and it's their job to play hard," Rogers said.
Last week, playing on a Thursday night, the Tigers came out and lost a 34-0 contest at Kendrick. Now Temple had an extra day, and Rogers hopes his team comes out with a little more urgency Friday night.
"[The extra day] is not going to hurt us. We just didn't play. I don't know if it was because of the change in our schedule, but we didn't show up. It was almost like we were in a fog," Rogers said. "We're not going to use any excuses. We just got beat. The great thing about high school football is you've got a shot every Friday. If it doesn't go the way you want it, you regroup and try to win the next one."