by Erik Nelson
The Rogers football program is celebrating its 20th season in 2022, and for the past two seasons, the Royals have been crowned section champions.
Since the program began in 2003, the only thing it has yet to accomplish is win a state championship. It has won district championships and section championships, and had a state Prep Bowl appearance in 2010 and a state semifinal appearance in 2021.
Rogers head coach Marc Franz has been here all 20 seasons. In addition to serving as head football coach, he is a math teacher who teaches three courses: college pre-calculus, Algebra I and AP Statistics. He’s been the coach of the program for such a long time that some of his former student-athletes are on his coaching staff, like RHS special education teacher Max Carlson, who graduated from RHS in 2014.
Franz said coaching high school football helps him find the fountain of youth.
“The highlight [of Rogers football] is working with the phenomenal young kids that we have on a daily basis,” Franz said. “In a selfish manner, I love it so much because it keeps me young. I love coming out here and running around and coaching football and seeing the kids run around.”
Rogers senior running back and co-captain Anthony Powell said putting on the Royals uniform is meaningful to him.
“In the past, we’ve had a history of winning a lot of big games,” Powell said. “We’ve got a lot of section championships under our belt. There’s a sense of pride and expectation and excellence when we wear this uniform.”
Rogers has won a conference or district championship seven times and has won five section championships. The Royals appeared in the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2021 state football tournaments. In 2010, the Royals made it all the way to the Class 4A state championship game before losing to Totino-Grace 34-14 at the Metrodome. The Metrodome has since been demolished and is now occupied by U.S. Bank Stadium, where Rogers played in last year’s Class 5A state semifinal game, which was a 42-7 loss to Mankato West on Nov. 20, 2021.
Rogers senior quarterback Reese Dawson said he loves seeing younger players at the games that may one day be playing for the Royals varsity team as well.
“To see all the youth players come on youth days, it’s fun to see them look up to us.”
Rogers senior wide receiver and co-captain Noah Gordon said playing for the Royals is about respecting those who played on the team for the previous 19 seasons. This is Gordon’s first year on the team and hasn’t played football since the fifth grade.
“It’s about those who came before us, too,” Gordon said. “The blood, sweat and tears and being able to represent them well.”
None of these players would be here on the field if they didn’t do well in school. Franz prioritizes a player’s academic standing before anything else.
“He wants you to do your best in school before you come out here and work on the field,” senior wide receiver Drew Hennen said.
Although the Royals have started the year 1-1, Franz said the Royals will improve every week leading up to the end of the regular season and the beginning of the Section 6-4A postseason in October.
“This team is going to be impressive as the season goes along,” he said.