At a shade more than 150 pounds, junior cornerback Spencer Rogers is Carson High’s smallest starting player.
Don’t make the mistake of underestimating him because of his size, because Rogers, to use football jargon, can bring the wood. Entering Saturday’s (1 p.m. kick-off) game against Bishop Manogue, Rogers has the third-most solo tackles on the team (26) and tied for third overall with 36 tackles.
“He’s tough as nails,” said CHS defensive coordinator Steve Dilley. “He weighs a buck thirty (actually 150) and he’s not afraid to come up and hit. In our scheme, our cornerbacks are asked to come up and hit.”
Rogers just smiled when informed of Dilley’s comments.
“I like the contact,” Rogers said. “Wrestling has definitely helped with that.”
And, wrestling has helped with his approach to the game and sports in general.
“He’s just a competitor,” Dilley said. “I love that kid’s work ethic.”
“I go as hard as I can all the time on and off the field,” Rogers said. “When you play sports, you have to be self motivated to keep going when it’s the fourth quarter and you’re tired.”
The work ethic extends to film study. Hudl is a relatively new system where players can log in and watch film, their own and their opponents, on their laptop or desktop.
“I’m always watching film at home,” Rogers said. “I spend at least 30 minutes a day on my own. I want to get to know the receivers I’m going up against that week; their moves and my reads.
“Sometimes I read the tight end, and other times it’s the tackle to know whether it’s a run or pass. Early in the season, I was a little late reacting; late getting to run plays and receivers in front of me.”
The hard work has paid dividends. Rogers has been beaten deep just twice this season, once against Reed when Matt Denn hooked up with Michael Spivack for a 46-yard pass. And, last week he gave up a 26-yard TD pass to Elijah Sapico which gave Damonte Ranch an early 7-0 advantage.
“I just got beat (by Sapico),” Rogers said. “I was looking in the backfield (too long) and he went by me.”
“He knew he made a mistake,” Dilley said. “He just jumped the route. Other than that, I thought he played very well.”
Besides his 36 tackles, Rogers has seven pass breakups, one forced fumble, an interception, and two fumble recoveries. Rogers has backed up the faith Dilley showed when he started the junior at cornerback opposite Caulin Bartley.
“It definitely helps that he (Dilley) has confidence in me, and that he didn’t pull me after the TD last week,” Rogers said. “I’m happy with my performance, but I also know there is always room for improvement. I’m trying to get better every game. I’m working hard on technique.”
Rogers has made some big plays this season, achieving some of his individual goals in the process.
Two of those goals were met in the 28-6 win over Spanish Springs. He got his first interception and also racked up his first-ever double-digit tackle effort (10).
“I was waiting for it,” Rogers said. “Coach Dilley said they were going to run a whel route. I saw it coming. The pass was low, but I still got it.”
The next big play came in the 58-0 win against Hug. Rogers scooped up a Ja’lawnie Thomas fumble and returned it 21 yards for a score, which put an exclamation point on Carson’s shutout.
“I saw the ball bouncing, and I knew I had a chance (to score),” Rogers said.
The only thing missing is a pick 6, and considering Carson has made teams one dimensional that goal is certainly achievable.
Rogers has been used almost exclusively on defense this season. He has carried the ball four times for 37 yards in blowout wins over McQueen and Hug.
“My JV year I played both ways,” Rogers said. “Next year I’d like to play both ways; play more offense.”
The Senators, who have the deepest backfield in northern Nevada, will return Greg Wallace, Tyler Huling and Jake Roman, all of whom see action at wingback. Rogers certainly has the ability to crack that group and get some regular snaps.
Until then, he’ll continue to make things difficult for opposing quarterbacks and receivers.