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Rogers leaving Denison for same position at Tioga

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Yellow Jacket head football coach and athletic director Chad Rogers is leaving Denison to take the same position at Tioga.

After nearly a decade leading the Yellow Jacket football program, Chad Rogers decided it was time to seek a different challenge.

Rogers is stepping down as Denison's head coach and athletic director to take the same position at Tioga. The Tioga ISD will make the hire official on Monday.

“I love our community and it’s been a great job. I feel like it’s time for the kids to hear a different voice,” Rogers said. "The program I feel is in great shape and wish them nothing but success. It was a tough decision.”

Rogers replaces Cody Patton, who was reassigned by the district in mid-December.

Rogers had a 49-45 record with four playoff appearances and a shared district title at DHS and leaves with the fourth-most victories in program history — he passed Herman Bailey this year and his fourth win in 2021 would have moved him past Les Cranfill behind only Bob Brown (127) and Marty Criswell (89).

Only Brown (15) and Criswell (11) served as Denison's coach longer than Rogers, who matched Cranfill's stretch of nine seasons.

The change means that Denison will have just its fifth head coach since 1981. Criswell begat Brown who begat Cody White's five-year run until Rogers' reign.

Defensive coordinator Todd Wallis will oversee the football program during the hiring process while Rogers will continue most of his athletic director duties as he transitions over to Tioga.

Denison made the playoffs for the first time in three seasons this past fall and ended with a 7-4 record after losing in the bi-district round to North Forney.

The Jackets will return seven starters on offense, including quarterback Caleb Heavner and running back Jadarian Price, and six starters on defense.

"I think we're leaving it in great hands," Rogers said. "I'm sure there's going to be a lot of people coming after it. I hope they stay successful."

It was the program's second-best mark under Rogers, behind an 8-3 record in 2017. But the Jackets were never able to get past the first round.

"I think there's a couple years I could have done better," Rogers said.

The biggest mark Rogers left on the program was an 8-1 record in the Battle of the Ax. After losing to Sherman in his first season, he oversaw the current eight-game winning streak that is Denison's longest stretch of success in the rivalry. The best run before this was from 1942-48, a span that included five wins and two ties.

It also is the third-longest overall winning streak in Ax history.

"The last eight years have been a lot more fun eating in Sherman than that first one," Rogers said.

Rogers arrived at Denison in 2012 after White's departure to take over at Brentwood Academy (Tenn.). His first season ended at 2-8 but then the Jackets went 6-5, sharing the District 13-4A title with McKinney North, Lovejoy and Wylie.

His his only other losing regular season came in 2014 at 4-6. Denison made the playoffs in both 2016 and 2017 with bi-district losses to Saginaw Boswell both years.

Then in 2018 and 2019, the Jackets came up just short of the postseason as they were on the wrong side of tie-breakers for the fourth and final berth in District 7-5A (II) with identical 6-4 overall records and 5-3 finishes in district play.

But this past season Denison moved up to third in the standings, behind only top 10-ranked Lovejoy and Frisco.

Rogers is 145-85 in 20 seasons as a head coach. He was at Snyder for 11 seasons before being hired by Denison, where he was 96-40 with nine playoff berths, six district titles and a pair of state semifinal appearances.

Patton helped Tioga transition from not having a football program for more than 60 years into the six-man ranks with success there before moving to the 11-man level three years ago.

"There's a lot of pluses. It's an up-and-coming program," Rogers said. "We get to stay in the area and be close to family. We get to build something. I'm really excited about the possibilities."

Patton went 39-47 overall with five playoff appearances, including a streak of four straight which was snapped this past season. The Bulldogs finished 1-8 and went 0-5 in District 5-2A (I) after moving up in the latest realignment — the second straight realignment they were playing at a new classification or division.

The Bulldogs were six-man state semifinalists in 2017 and went 11-2 before joining the 11-man ranks the following season. They were a 2A Division II program for that realignment cycle, making the playoffs each year despite 1-10 and 3-7 records.

Realignment moved Tioga up again, this time to 2A Division I in February and the Bulldogs ended 1-8 and last in the 5-2A (I) standings. The team’s only victory was a 39-8 win over Era in non-district play.

In three seasons as an 11-man program, the Bulldogs have gone 5-25.

There is a chance the program could make another jump in the next realignment. Tioga’s enrollment for the 2020-22 cycle was 187 students and the Class 3A Division II cutoff was 230 students.

In 2015 Tioga’s enrollment was 103 students and it jumped to 141 in 2017 before the 46-student increase in 2019. Another increase of that same number would give it 233 students and put the Bulldogs right on the cusp of moving up.