In his first chance to be a head football coach, Chad Rogers built a perennial power at Snyder. Now Denison has turned to him in keeping in line the success sustained by the Yellow Jacket program over the past 30 years.
Rogers’ three-year contract as Denison’s head football coach and athletic director was officially announced by the ISD on Monday morning.
“It’s a great day in my life and a very exciting day for my family,” Rogers said. “Denison is a great place to be and we’re excited to be here.”
Rogers spent the past 11 seasons as the head coach at Snyder, a Class 3A program northwest of Abilene. He should officially begin at Denison no later than April 1.
“We’re extremely excited to have someone of this quality take over the leadership of our athletic programs and the DHS football program,” Denison superintendent Dr. Henry Scott said. “Chad will be here in Denison organizing our athletic programs and getting ready for spring training, on a part-time basis, until he is released from his contract in Snyder…at which time he will be here full time.”
Rogers will meet with the team and the current coaching staff over the next two days as he starts his transition to lead the Yellow Jacket program.
“I told seniors I need them right now. I can’t wait. I don’t have a plan where in three years we’ll be successful. I want it to be immediate. I want them to be a part of it,” Rogers said. “This is the 111th team to play football next year. That’s three of my favorite numbers. If that means anything, then that ought to be pretty exciting.”
He was hired after Cody White resigned on Feb. 1 to take the same position at Brentwood Academy (Tenn.). White went 34-24 in five seasons that included two district titles and a state semifinal appearance in 2009. But the past two years Denison went 5-15 with a pair of fifth-place finishes.
“You get the kids to play hard and act right and winning takes care of itself,” Rogers said. “I’m a worker; I’m an open book; I’m an easy read.”
The 44-year-old Rogers becomes just the fourth Yellow Jacket head coach since 1981, joining Marty Criswell, Bob Brown and White in that time frame. Brown is the program’s all-time winningest coach while Criswell guided the Jackets on their state championship run in 1984.
“I think a lot of Denison and the town of Denison and the people of Denison. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t. I think it’s the best job around. I don’t know where else you’d want to be,” Rogers said. “This is where I want to be and this is where I want to coach and we’ll be here as long as Denison will have me.”
It is a return to Texoma for Rogers, who was born in Sherman and raised in Durant before attending high school in New Mexico. His father lives just across the border in Oklahoma.
Rogers is the all-time winningest coach in Snyder history, compiling a 96-40 record without a losing season and nine playoff appearances. His playoff record at the school is 17-9. Snyder was 9-15 in the postseason before his arrival.
He guided the Tigers to the 3A Division II state semifinals in 2004 and 2007 and was a state quarterfinalist in 2003. This past season Snyder was 11-2, with both defeats by a combined four points, and lost to Shallowater in a region semifinal. His teams have won six district titles and he has been a six-time district Coach of the Year. Twice under Rogers the Tigers won 12 games to set the program single-season mark and he had an 11-game win streak, which is also a Snyder record.
“Chad is just a really top-quality person, coach and leader who will be a tremendous role model and motivator for our student athletes,” Scott said. “We expect that the great success he’s experienced in Snyder will carry over into our Yellow Jacket football program here in Denison.”
Rogers was an assistant for two seasons at Snyder before being elevated to head coach. Before that he was an assistant for nine years at Las Cruces Mayfield (N.M.), which won three state titles in his final four seasons there.
Rogers was chosen over two other finalists — Mesquite Poteet head coach Randy Jackson and Spring DeKaney head coach Willie Amendola — and had been sought by other big-name programs recently, being a finalist for Midland Lee and Stephenville in the last four years.
The three were culled from 16 semifinalists out of the 173 applicants that were reviewed by Champions Search Firm.
Spring practice gets underway soon and Rogers will have at least two spots to fill on the varsity staff. He took care of one with the addition of offensive coordinator Cory Mandrell.
“My style of football is: we’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to know where we’re supposed to go and we’re going to have fun when we get there,” Rogers said. “If you’re having fun at what you do and you enjoy your job I think you’re going to be more successful at it. I think that’s important.”
Denison will move into a new district in the fall and face Sherman, Greenville, Royse City, Wylie, Wylie East, McKinney North and Lovejoy in 13-4A games through the 2013 season. The Jackets also have non-district games against Paris, Frisco Liberty and Frisco Centennial.
Rogers’ son, Chance, is a sophomore quarterback who was expected to take over as Snyder’s starter in 2012 after the graduation of Texas Tech signee Keenon Ward. He joins a program that returns its quarterback, Clifton Jackson, the entire receiving corps plus the transfer of running back Denard Whitfield back from McKinney Boyd. The entire offensive line, however, needs to be replaced.
Defensively the secondary returns intact as do two starting linebackers. The defensive line will be all new faces.
“Our defense is very simple. Nowadays kids know exactly where their cell phone is at all times,” Rogers said. “We just tell them the quarterback stole their cell phone, go get it back. … We’re very aggressive. We blitz a lot, but I think that’s fun.”