Expectations set were expectations met for the Rogers football program last year.
Thirteen seniors are shepherding a huge underclass on a team seeking to buttress last year’s 5-3 season, during which the Pirates earned a share of second in the GSL.
“Basically I’ve been telling the kids we expect to be good,” said Pirate coach Dave Pomante. “Saying we are young is no excuse.”
Juniors from back-to-back standout freshmen and junior varsity teams will play a major part this year. The seniors, however, will contribute.
Four - Shaun McMackin, Bryant Hemphill, James Dawe and Sean Dainty - understand their importance.
McMackin is a third-year varsity player and starting fullback who embodies the unselfishness at the core of Rogers’ program.
He has been more than willing to block for the featured tailback who carries upwards of 30 times a game.
“The position I play, I do because I love football,” he said. “I want to help out the team any way I can.”
Hemphill is the prodigal lineman returned to the program. He gave up football as a sophomore because he didn’t like conditioning drills. He was lured back last season and the 6-foot-3, 275-pounder became a starter.
“I see myself as having to be a leader,” he said. “I’m the only person back on the line and a lot of young people will fill those positions.”
Dawe epitomized the uncompromising belief that Rogers could succeed, a bull-strong 150-pound defensive tackle who relishes combat with larger foes.
“I love it,” said Dawe, who finished fifth in last year’s regional wrestling tournament as a 129-pounder. “It’s not a glorious position but necessary.”
Dainty stuck patiently with the program in a supporting role, knowing he’d get his chance to start.
“I was willing to wait my turn and got experience,” said the tight end and safety.
They will, said Pomante, be major contributors this year.
“Shaun had done a great job blocking for us and a great job leading as far as values we promote,” he said. “Bryant was really a pleasant surprise. He did a good job with virtually no experience.”
Dawe, he said, is unblockable because of his speed and strength.
“We need him to make things happen,” said Pomante. “He creates blocking problems for others.”
As for Dainty, “we expect to throw the ball to him,” said the coach. “He needs to give us some blocking.”
Rogers has a turnout of more than 80 players, indicative of interest in the sport. Pomante will continue to two-platoon as much as possible.
McMackin and junior Ryan Hill will alternate between tailback and fullback. Junior Donny Cuculich is the new quarterback.
Up front Hemphill will help train senior lineman Carl Gaumer and juniors Jim Dearing and Brandon Young. Wide receivers include senior Ryan Shaw and Kevin Oglesbee.
Junior Lewis Wirth is back at linebacker and will be joined on defense by backs Kent Browning, Dayrn Steeneck, Daryl Groom, Brian Liberty, linemen Cougar Devereaux, Travis Brumbaugh, Matt Prunier and J.C. Classen.
“Regardless of whether they are young or old, they know our expectations,” said Pomante.
All four seniors talk about leadership, togetherness and the playoffs.
McMackin said he wants the program to be what it was when his parents were in school.
Said Hemphill, “I want to take us a step farther than last year and be a contender for a championship.”
Added Dawe, “We set standards and have a lot to live up to.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo