Calling it a "destination job," Mike Rogers took the podium Monday afternoon in the trophy room in front of the Otis Dinning Gym and discussed becoming Paducah Tilghman's head football coach. Rogers succeeds Randy Wyatt, who stepped down Dec. 10 after six years at the helm, including winning a Class 3A state title in 2009.
Rogers coached at Warren Central the past five seasons, going 46-17 with the Class 5A program â “ the second-most wins in school history. He coached Graves County from 2004-08, going 34-22 there.
He was frank about his goal of taking Paducah Tilghman to the top of Class 3A.
"We're going to win state championships at Tilghman. That's the expectation," Rogers said. "I won't be standing here long if I don't do that for you, and that's good. I want to be at a place where it's like that. I love the culture here. I fell in love with it quick and I know my family will, too, because of the pride and tradition that's here and the community. The expectation of excellence is abundant everywhere you go in this town. Everybody here wants the Tornado to be successful on the gridiron."
The Murray State alumnus and former captain for the Racers track and field team said his coming to take the reins of the Blue Tornado is a chance to get a new start.
"It's a natural fit for me," Rogers said. "I'm from inner-city Louisville and this community is kind of the way Fern Creek was when I was growing up, so we're excited about that. And then to get back closer to a lot of family and friends, although we're leaving a bunch of great people, but to get a fresh start always gets you going and we've been blessed to leave every place on good terms. But a fresh start always gets you going."
Rogers got the job over 34 other applicants. After a committee of seven narrowed the field, he was one of six interviewed. Rogers took the position after Principal Art Davis offered it to him Friday.
"We interviewed the six individuals over a full week, and I will say every individual could coach football," Davis said during the news conference. "But we had to have someone that fit Paducah Tilghman High School, and not everyone is a fit. But this gentleman fit the full bill. Yes, he knows football. But he knows students, he knows people and he knows community, and it became unanimous who the guy for the job was. His name was Mike Rogers."
Having coached at Graves County, Rogers said he's fully aware of the rivalries Paducah Tilghman is a part of and about the thirst the fan base has to win those games.
"The USA Today had a vote on the best rivalries in each state, and Warren Central-Bowling Green was voted the top rivalry in the state and No. 2 was Paducah Tilghman and Mayfield," Rogers said. "Of course you can argue that because I know about Paducah-Mayfield and Graves County-Mayfield and that's exciting to me. That's what you do this for. You don't do this to beat somebody by 60 points. That's no fun. I talked to (Mayfield head football coach) Joe Morris today and he's getting them ready down there. I know that. He's got a little bit of a jump on me, but we'll be ready for them, too."
Rogers also promised the team will continue playing a tough schedule to prepare for the state playoffs and what he hopes will be numerous trips to the state championship game.
"You play the best to get to December," Rogers said. "At Warren Central we played the toughest schedule in the state last year. So I know all about that, and we'll continue to do that here. For years, I've seen they can play with anybody so we're going to put them on the field against great competition. We'll travel some and obviously play the rivalries. I'm really excited about those. But I'm ready to win here at Paducah Tilghman."
Call James D. Horne, a Paducah Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661 or follow on Twitter @psunsports.