The Nokomis Regional High School football team will play in a new conference next fall, and the Warriors will also take the field with a new head coach. Jake Rogers, a longtime assistant coach at Lawrence, was approved earlier this week by the Nokomis school board to take over the program.
“I’ve been thinking of applying for head coaching jobs for around five years now,” Rogers, 35, said. “It’s a challenge I’ve wanted to take on.”
Nokomis athletic director Mark Babin said four finalists were interviewed, and Rogers stood out.
“Throughout the interview process, he was very organized and highly motivated,” Babin said. “He came across as the best candidate.”
Nokomis struggled the last two seasons, going 0-16 playing in the Pine Tree Conference Class B division. With declining enrollment, the Warriors will spend the next two seasons in Class C’s Big Ten Conference.
Rogers graduated from Lawrence in 1999, and was a member of the Pine Tree Conference championship team in 1996. As an assistant coach at Lawrence, Rogers has been a member of a staff that has produced one of the conference’s consistent playoff contenders.
“That’s what I’m hoping to develop at Nokomis,” Rogers said. “It’s developing a competitive culture amongst the players on the team. If they’ll compete amongst themselves at practice, they’ll compete against other teams.”
Rogers cited current Lawrence head coach John Hersom, former head coach Pete Cooper, and former offensive line coach Mike Mealey as his coaching influences.
“Honestly, I’ve taken something from every one of them. I played for and coached with Mike (Mealey),” Rogers said. “John’s attention to detail, even just setting up stretching lines. Trying to motivate teenagers, it’s quite the challenge, and John does a great job.”
Hersom met Rogers when he arrived at Lawrence in 2004 as an assistant to then head coach Scott Walker. At the time, Rogers worked with Lawrence’s freshmen team. When Hersom became the Bulldogs head coach the next season, Rogers joined his staff. Hersom said he knew right away Rogers was an up and coming coach with potential.
“He’s very energetic, and very straight-forward with all his points and coaching technique, things I really value,” Hersom said.
Rogers has served as offensive line coach and defensive coordinator at Lawrence, helping coach the Bulldogs to four regional titles and the Class A state championship is 2006.
“Jake’s well organized. He certainly does his homework. He’s very good at prepping himself and prepping for our opponents,” Hersom said. “He’ll expect a lot, but he’ll be patient as well.”
Rogers said he expects to meet at least some of the returning Nokomis players next week.
“I plan to go up, hit the weight room, and get my face out there,” Rogers said.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242