STARKVILLE — Justin Rogers never knows where he might line up.
Whether at defensive back on defense, or at wide receiver, running back or quarterback on offense, the Starkville High School senior is ready to contribute.
With a roster of only 58 players, Rogers knows he has to go the extra mile for the Yellow Jackets.
“You just have to focus, come to practice, and lift weights,” Rogers said. “You”ve got to do a lot of conditioning to get prepared because we don”t have many players, so you have to play on both sides.”
Rogers was especially on top of his game last week in a 14-7 victory against Tupelo.
Rogers caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jaquez Johnson and had an interception. And as a holder, he snared a bad snap and placed it in time for an extra-point attempt.
“He”s been just as good doing the little things,” Starkville offensive coordinator Rob Morgan said. “He does whatever you ask him to do. He”s gotten better every week. Whether it”s been line up at tailback, one-back, in the slot, or return kickoffs or punts, he does it all because that”s the type of kid he is.”
Starkville (2-4, 2-0 Class 6A, Region 1, District 2) will continue to rely on the talents of Rogers against Horn Lake at 7 tonight.
Rogers leads the Yellow Jackets in scoring with four touchdowns for 24 points. He”s the second-leading receiver with 12 catches for 140 yards and second-leading rusher with 34 carries for 159 yards.
On defense, Rogers has five tackles and two interceptions. He has 142 yards combined on punt and kickoff returns.
Starkville coach Bill Lee said Rogers does a good job of multi-tasking.
“I can”t think of a better young man to be a team player like he is,” Lee said. “He”s given us a boost and has carried us. To step in to play a dual role, it”s been nothing but nice. He comes to play every night.
“He”s still a backup quarterback, too. Anyway we can, we want to get the ball in his hands.”
Without offensive playmakers Chuck Tillery (broken leg) and Jakarta Agnew (knee) for most of the season, Rogers and Billy Shed have had to pick up the slack.
Morgan said Rogers and Shed have split time in the backfield. Shed was primarily a safety on defense.
Tillery played for the first time this season against Tupelo and had a pair of catches for 30 yards.
Although Morgan still doesn”t think Tillery is 100 percent, it was “nice to see him out there.”
“We”ll take him at 85-90 percent,” Morgan said.
Rogers was glad to be able to fill in while Tillery was out. He said the entire team had that attitude.
Lee is proud of the way the Yellow Jackets have responded after opening the season with four-straight losses.
“We were down but not out,” Lee said. “This team seems to have a bond like no other team I”ve been around. It”s tough to pick yourself up after going 0-4. They have bounced back and been resilient, and I like that about this group of kids.”
Rogers said getting two victories has helped the moral of the team.
“The team is focused even more than we were before,” Rogers said. “Now that we see how it feels to win, we are getting addicted to it and want to do what we”ve got to do to win.”