WHEATON – After missing his entire junior year due to injury, Lewis Rogers was forced to wait two more days along with his teammates to start the 2013 season.
Riverside Brookfield's football opener at St. Francis was called off Friday night due to lightning and moved to Saturday morning. More lightning Saturday morning moved the game to Sunday afternoon, when the host Spartans won 35-9.
For Rogers, it just meant his wait to play varsity football took two more days. Three days before the season opening game in 2012 he went up for a jump ball in practice and came down on his wrist hard. Both Rogers and quarterback Jack VandeMerkt can point to the spot on RB's field where the injury happened.
The injury forced him to miss the entire 2012 football season.
"It was very hard," Rogers said. "There were times where I just wanted to rip my cast off and run out there, but I had to tough through it. I felt like it made me a better person this year. I realized things that I do take for granted and it made me work harder during the offseason."
That hard work coupled with his attitude was recognized by RB's players, who named him an honorary captain for 2012. This fall Rogers, who was a state qualifier in the 300-meter hurdles and the 4x400 relay on the track team in the spring, was elected a senior captain.
“He was here on the field at six in the morning on school days just working his [butt] off and it shows," said RB coach Brendan Curtin. "The kids recognize that. Obviously you don’t see it too often where a kid that didn’t get on the field his junior year was elected a captain.”
Rogers made his varsity debut in the loss to St. Francis. The Bulldog offense had five three-and-outs in the first half and Spartans' running back James Butler ran for 181 yards and three touchdowns.
Butler was the main difference between the two teams, but RB seemed to struggle in the heat with many key players playing both ways.
"We’re asking a lot from them to go both ways on a few series and it caught up to us a lot sooner than we expected," Curtin said. "The elements were going to be challenging, but at the same time we talked to them all week about mental toughness and playing to the best of your ability regardless of the circumstances. I don’t think we did a very good job of that.”
The lone offensive highlight for the Bulldogs was a 30-yard touchdown pass from VandeMerkt to Antone Dixon.
Still, Rogers was able to get his first taste of varsity football action and can look ahead to Week 2 against Lemont.
“It felt great," Rogers said. "We gotta come back stronger next week.”
St. Francis 35, Riverside Brookfield 9
Passing leaders: Jack VandeMerkt, RB 11-for-32, 126 yards, TD; Zach Prociuk, St. Francis 6-for-15, 59 yards
Rushing leaders: James Butler, St. Francis 19 carries, 181 yards, 3 TD; T.J. Jackson, St. Francis 8 carries, 43 yards, TD; Adolfo Linares, RB 10 carries, 35 yards
Receiving leaders: Christian Verdin, RB 4 rec., 47 yards; Antone Dixon, RB 2 rec., 32 yards, TD