All ten Rogers football players who made all-conference last year have graduated so the Royals will be looking for new leadership, along with 17 new starters out of 22 slots, this fall.
But the Royals, entering their 10th season, have gotten accustomed to winning, with three consecutive conference and section crowns, and don’t intend to stop now, not with a robust roster of 130 players battling for varsity playing time.
“We will be young and inexperienced right away, but we expect to be there at the end, competing for the top spots in the conference, section, and state,” said Marc Franz, the Royals coach all 10 years. “We will have 22 different starters. We have lots of depth. Our sophomores were unbeaten and the JV had a solid year.”
Returning offensive starters are lineman Joel Ende and halfback Nate Roehl. On defense they’re lineman Josh Malin, linebacker Mitch Grupa and back Parker Veith. All are seniors except Ende, a junior.
All the top stat guys on offense and defense are gone but Franz is confident the Royals will be running the ball with authority as usual, hitting play-action passes and snarling on defense.
Vying for the quarterback slot were senior Sam Spilles and juniors Luke Selken and Conner Henderson. Running hard with the ball, the coach reported, were senior Kent Hoover, junior Nate Weber and soph Gunnar Bloom.
As for linemen and defensive players, Franz said there was a “huge sorting-out process” going on, with SO many candidates. “We’ve got some bug guys, and some guys who can move, on the line, and we hope to find the ones who can do both.”
Rogers schedule this year includes two Duluth schools whom the MSHSL forced the Mississippi 8 to take. Another matchup with Elk River, a conference rival the past two years, is possible, too, as the two neighbors are in the same section for the first time.
Last year –
Coaches – Marc Franz (10th year) … Grade 10-12 staff: Mick Goudy, Ryan LaPointe, Ken Worel, BJ Brent, Justin Oie, Josh Rogahn, Matt Webb, Jeff Petersen, Jeremy Hood … Fresham staff: Rob Lehman, Ryan Donnay, Matt Houselag, Jake Kolar
Returning starters — Josh Maln (sr DL), Mitch Grupa (sr LB), Parker Veith (sr DB), Joel Ende (jr OL), Nate Roehl (jr RB)
Should also help — Kent Hoover (sr RB), Nate Weber (jr RB), Gunnar Bloom (so RB), Levi Simpson (sr WR), Luke Dnly (sr WR) … QB candidates Sam Spille (sr), Conner Henderson (jr), Luke Selken (jr) … Line and other defensive candidates too numerous to mention at this writing, said coach.
Conference — Mississippi 8
Sectional — 6AAAAA with Buffalo, Elk River, Monticello, STMA, Willmar