Elks senior running back Dylan Rogers has made the most of his 2021 senior season. Rogers, who was known as Dylan Matykiewicz in 2020, is one of the reasons why Team 130 is one win away from its fifth Class 5A state tournament appearance since 2016.
Rogers leads the Elks in touchdowns this season with 17, averaging 1.89 per game. He also leads the Elks with 1,363 yards rushing on 117 carries, averaging 11.6 yards per carry and 151.4 yards per game.
Rogers, whose nickname is Nighthawk, said making the most of his senior season has been a long time coming. Rogers has been a member of the Elks since 2018.
“I had to sit behind a lot of guys but also had to learn a lot,” Rogers said. “I got to watch some of the best do it. I’m the kid who remembers all the great high school running backs before me. Being able to have the year I’m having as a senior means the world to me.”
Rogers’ favorite memory of 2021 to date has been winning the homecoming game against Alexandria on Friday, Oct. 15. In the first game at the renovated Jerry Schempf Field, the Elks trailed for most of the game against the Cardinals before pulling off an incredible, fourth-quarter comeback to win the game 57-56 on the last drive of the game. Rogers scored a pair of touchdowns in the win.
“We climbed back down 28-6,” he said. “We climbed out of that hole and we put on a show for the community and the new stadium. I felt the love and support for the city.”
Rogers grew up a Minnesota Vikings fan. A reason why he chose to play football was because of his uncle, Buff Senn. Senn and Rogers would watch Vikings games together, from annual rivalry games against the Green Bay Packers to NFC postseason games. His favorite Viking of all-time is former wide receiver Percy Harvin, who played for the Vikings from 2009-2012 and was a member of Florida’s 2006 and 2008 National Championship-winning teams.
“You’d feel like you’d see him return a kick every game,” Rogers said. “I could see me playing like him, being fast, elusive and juking people out.”
Not only has Rogers improved on the field, he has improved off of it. He didn’t take school seriously until his junior year, when he discovered that his passion was physical therapy. His favorite subjects in school are physics and human anatomy.
“I realized I needed to get better schooling,” he said. “I realized that I needed to apply myself because I knew that my academics so far wasn’t a representation of myself. I got a purpose and strove for that purpose. I’ve had a lot of injuries with football. I feel like nothing’s worse than when you don’t know how to help yourself and you’re in pain. With physical therapy, it dives into your body and how your body functions. When something’s not working the right way or something’s inflamed, physical therapy gives you the end to heal your body.”
Elks junior quarterback Cade Osterman said that Rogers is a leader who wants to win.
“You can see based on the steps he has taken as a leader, as a student, as a foreback, as a d-back,” Osterman said. “Everything he’s done he’s stepped it up to another level and he wants us all to be great. That’s what he’s doing.”
Rogers plans after he graduates from Elk River High School on Friday, June 10, 2022, is to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison and major in physical therapy. He doesn’t plan on playing football in college, wherever he ends up in the fall of 2022.
“It’s beautiful there,” he said. “A beautiful campus. It gives me the space away from home, not that I don’t like Elk River, but it gives me the space to grow and further myself.”
Rogers’ next challenge is for he and the Elks to take down No. 1 Andover in the Section 7-5A championship game on Friday, Nov. 5, at Andover High School. Rogers said it doesn’t matter what the teams’ records are. It all depends on who shows up on Friday night.
“They can have all those wins, but if we take the one that matters, that’s what means most to us. We’re fully aware of what’s at stake with the revenge tour: Andover then possibly having Rogers [in state]. We all want it, and we’re fully aware of what’s ahead of us and what it’s going to take to get there.”
Osterman said Rogers is going to be remembered as a hard worker whether or not he’s the smallest guy on the field.
“He’s got a lot of heart and he’s not going to go down without a fight,” he said.