Spend any time with Corky Rogers and it’s easy to see why he’s still coaching High School Football: he still loves it. Rogers is taking the Bolles football team to Orlando on Thursday to play Cocoa for the state championship. It would be the 12th in school history and 11th for Rogers at the school.
“This one is special,” Rogers said sitting on the bench at his home field. “I usually work with the receivers and the running backs and they’re all seniors. It’s been great watching them grow.”
At the beginning of the year, Rogers didn’t know how good his team could be. But they’ve gotten more solid on defense, getting them to the state title game.
“I told our boys, South Sumter probably deserves to play for the state championship,” Corky explained, referring to the stop Bolles made on the 1-inch line on the final play of the game to preserve their state semi-final victory. “But we made a play and deserve to play in that game too.”
With the game on Thursday night, the Bulldogs will leave on the same day around noon, stopping in Orlando for a pregame meal at 3 and heading to the stadium. Rogers left for a state title game a day early once in his career when he was still coaching at Lee.
“We were playing Wakulla and we left a day early,” he said with a laugh. “You think you know your players. You’re with them every day for four years. But I found cheerleaders hiding in bathtubs, guys making bed sheet ropes like they were trying to escape from prison, all kinds of things I didn’t want to see again!”
A health scare earlier this year, the result of blood transfusions after being hit by a car in 1988, has left Rogers weaker than he’d like, but he’s determined to be at practice and keep coaching as he always has.
“I’m hardheaded that way I guess,” he noted. “My health hasn’t been good but I’m always at practice. Yesterday I got here right before practice started but I was here.”
He’s not as active as he’d like to be but still pours over game footage preparing for the next opponent. “I get tired so I’ll do my work in my chair,” he explained. “And I can tell you, this Cocoa team wants to win a state title.”
Facing Booker T. Washington out of Miami on a regular basis for the state championship, Bolles knows what to expect. Corky says its Cocoa that Booker T has to beat each year in the semi’s to get to the championship game.
“They’re big across both lines, fast and athletic,” he said. “And they want to play. They only lost one game to Bishop Gorman (in Las Vegas) and you know how good they are.”
Bolles is one of four schools representing North Florida in the state championship round. They’ll play Thursday at 7 in Orlando. University Christian plays at 10 on Friday followed by Ponte Vedra at three. Trinity Christian plays for their fourth straight state title on Saturday at 10. Sports Reporter Brian Jackson will be at all of the games in Orlando and will have updates, highlights, interviews and analysis on News4Jax and News4Jax.com