After being introduced Monday as Paducah Tilghman's head football coach, Mike Rogers spoke about the expectations of the job and his desire to win state championships. Note the plural.
His background certainly seems to fit what the Blue Tornado need. Rogers went 46-17 in five seasons at Warren Central in Bowling Green and made three consecutive Class 5A Region 1 championship games from 2010 to 2012.
But something else helped make the hiring committee's decision unanimous in favor of Rogers.
"He's a very good man, cares about the kids," Tilghman Athletic Director Dwayne Wall said.
Rogers helped to create the Game Plan for the Outdoors Foundation. The organization, which he started with Warren Central defensive coordinator William Howard, has paired 507 fatherless teenagers from 17 counties throughout Kentucky with role models through outdoor activities over the past three years.
He developed the idea in 1997 after the mother of one of his freshman players approached him. The player's father had died years earlier, and the player wanted to go hunting. The mother asked whether Rogers, who loves hunting, could take him.
They went to Ballard County for duck hunting, but he described the hunting as terrible. Everything else, though, went well.
"He said, 'Coach, you don't know what this means to me,'" Rogers said. "I was 22, 23. I didn't know. But I quickly learned. Today, that kid is an elementary school principal, got a great family. He's a mentor (in the program). We have so many stories like that, over and over and over."
Rogers began reaching out to fellow coaches in Kentucky to find players after his initial experience, and he said one person gave a $25,000 endowment to held fund the program. Others have filled his basement with donated fishing and camping gear.
So, yes, there are high expectations associated with Rogers' new position. Tilghman won a Class 3A state championship in 2009 and went 48-30 over a six-year span under Randy Wyatt, who resigned in December.
Rogers will balance his coaching responsibilities and an expected teaching position at Tilghman while continuing the work with his foundation. But it's something he's passionate about. He knows growing up without a father figure can be difficult.
In fact, he already has his retirement planned.
"It's what I'll do when I finish at Tilghman," he said. "That's all I'll do when I retire."
Call Daniel Paulling, a Paducah Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8662, or follow on Twitter @DanielPaulling.
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