By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS – After 13 district championships, nine quarterfinal appearances, four semifinal appearances, three championship games and one state title, Harker Heights football coach Ross Rogers has decided to retire from coaching and try something else.
No, it's not an end-around or a reverse or a half-back pass to the quarterback running a post pattern to the end zone. Rogers is leaving his trick-play legacy of coaching behind.
"I don't know how much I'll miss it," Rogers said. "I've talked with other coaches who've done this and they all say they miss the lump in the stomach before the ballgames and the camaraderie of the coaches and the team. Some of them say it never goes away.
"After 32 years, I feel like this has been my life," he said. "It's tough. My dad did it. Basically, I was born in a fieldhouse. I think it's time to take that experience and try something new."
Rogers will remain as Harker Heights' head coach and athletic coordinator until the end of February before starting work for sporting equipment icon Riddell in the Bryan-College Station area.
Rogers informed the team and coaches Thursday and Friday.
"It was going to happen some time," Rogers said. "I thought this was the best time to do it because it gives the school district a chance to post my job and get someone in and hit the ground running before the season starts."
Killeen ISD officials were unable to comment about Rogers' possible replacement because Rogers has yet to officially file his resignation papers with the school district. But Rogers expects Harker Heights to have a new coach before the football team's spring training in April and May.
"He did a lot for Harker Heights," Killeen High head football coach Sam Jones said. "I feel sorry for whoever comes in to replace him. He really built a legacy."
Rogers said he and Riddell representatives have been talking for about a year, but it wasn't until recently that they opted to bring someone on to cover that specific area, an area Rogers is well-acquainted with.
"If I'm getting out of coaching, it's good to go back to the area I'm familiar with," he said.
Rogers, the son of former longtime Killeen High coach Gene Rogers, spent 12 seasons with A&M Consolidated, taking the Tigers to the state finals three times in four years and winning it all in 1991 – the same year his alma mater, Killeen High, won its state championship. He also led the Tigers to the most Class 4A playoff victories in the '90s.
"He's reached a lot of goals in his time as a coach," said Rogers' brother Tom, a KISD assistant athletic director. "I don't know how much more he could achieve at the high school level."
In 2000, Rogers returned to the Killeen area to build the Harker Heights' football program from scratch.
"It's tough leaving a school having helped build it," Rogers said. "I'm proud of what we've done, the assistant coaches, the guys that helped me get it started. It's been a great time and a lot of fun."
Under Rogers, the Knights have gone to the playoffs in six of the school's seven years and he was the first Texas coach to win a district championship in the first year of a new high school. He is also the first Texas high school coach to win 14 or more games in four consecutive seasons.
"It's going to be strange: 'Boss Ross' is gone," Harker Heights boys basketball coach Celneque Bobbitt said.
"Last year we heard some speculation, but we all said 'Boss Ross isn't going anywhere.' But he is going to be hard to replace and hopefully we can get some guys in here that can live up to what he's done. Year in and year out he's been successful and he's done a great job. I think the next man that steps in is going to have really good tradition already built in."
Rogers coached in 55 playoff games, has a career coaching record of 211-87-8 and has coached in the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star game.
"When you get to that point in your career, having been doing it for 32 years or so, you've seen a lot of things, done a lot of things ... I wish him well," Ellison head football coach Bret Boyd said.
Rogers was president of the THSCA in 2001 and has been awarded Distinguished Killeen Kangaroo and 1992 Sam Houston State Hall of Fame honors.
Rogers began coaching at age 24 at Hempstead High School in 1977 before moving on to Waller High School in 1978 for five years. Rogers tasted the college coach's market for three years, serving as the Texas State (then Southwest Texas State) offensive coordinator from 1983-86.
He returned to the Friday night call in 1987 at Giddings High School and then moved on to A&M Consolidated the following year.
"He is absolutely one of the most fierce competitors on Friday night," Boyd said. "For the other 364 days of the year I would call him a good friend, but when he's on the other side of the field on that one Friday night of the year, he is absolutely fierce."
After graduating from Killeen High in 1971, Rogers spent a season at Lamar University and transferred to Sam Houston State, where he graduated in 1975. He earned his master's degree in 1976 at Baylor, where he was a graduate assistant under legendary coach Grant Teaff.
Contact Kevin Posival at email@example.com