High School Sports

Jones County’s Rogers happy to experience first win

Justin Rogers is quick to admit that there is no substitute for experience.

And when he says that, he is not talking about his Jones County football team, but more about himself as a first-time head coach.

But things have gone well so far, with the Greyhounds rolling to an season-opening 45-17 win over Morgan County.

The Greyhounds play their home opener and GHSA Region 2-AAAAA opener Friday against Cross Creek.

“It’s been very interesting so far,” said Rogers who was the offensive coordinator at Griffin the previous four years. “As the head coach, I have had to worry about everything from rosters to T-shirts to uniforms and still have time to coach this football team. It’s really like running a business. Time management becomes so important.

“But all my friends say it gets easier when the season starts, so I am looking forward to that.”

Rogers has also had to take a team that has been running the wing-T for years and has installed the spread offense.

“The kids have taken to it and love running it,” Rogers said. “We had a meeting on Sunday, and all of them were coming in excited because with college football starting, they were all saying that they had seen Auburn, Oklahoma and Clemson doing the same things we were.

“I just think today that kids want to run an up-tempo type of offense.”

That offense worked in the opener. The Greyhounds rolled up 419 yards of offense -- 261 passing and 158 rushing. The transition to a new coaching staff has been made easier by his players accepting the system.

“We have some great leaders on this team, some very vocal leaders like Terrell Solomon, Tyric Solomon and Torrez Finney, who make sure everyone is on the same page,” Rogers said. “We have a great bunch of kids, but we are fairly young, so having a player-driven team is very important to us. Those three guys have taken that role for us.”

The Greyhounds took a hit before the season even started when they lost senior running back Walker Juhan, but Rogers and his staff were impressed by the way his team reacted to losing possibly its best player.

“Walker is a college level football player, and it was a big loss for us, but we believe the next one up has to be ready to go,” Rogers said. “Chandler Ramage and Reggie Lewis have stepped up for us and done a great job and are keys to our football team. Another plus for us is our quarterback Bradley Hunnicutt, who has come up learning to run the wing-T, and all of a sudden he is in a wide-open offense that is comfortable throwing the ball 70 percent of the time if we need to.

“He has done a phenomenal job of running the offense so far.”

With a road win out of the way, Rogers is looking forward to his first home game.

“I have heard about the fan support at home games, and I am excited to see it this weekend,” Rogers said. “Cross Creek is a very good football team with a lot of size, and they will try to pressure us with their defense, but we will just go out there and play hard and keep improving.”