The Jefferson R-7 Blue Jays had a truly historic run in 2020. In fact, it was the greatest season in the program’s history. A District Title, A Conference Championship and a trip to the State Semi-Finals highlighted an incredible year from a thriving organization. None of that success could have been achieved without the expertise and determination of long-time Head Coach and new Athletic Director Alex Rouggly.
However, the 2021 squad features a lot of new faces, as the Blue Jays have to deal with significant roster turnover. It may be an adjustment, but they seem to be in very capable hands. Ameritime Sports caught up with Coach Rouggly and asked him five burning questions about last year’s heroics and the road ahead. What do you say, Coach?
1. Last season was a historic one for you and your Blue Jays, and undoubtedly a wonderful and wild ride. Was there a defining moment during your playoff run that stood out to you?
“There were many moments that made you look at everything and say… that was the moment. There were two big moments that stood out to me as game-changers. The first moment was our Homecoming win over a very good St. Vincent Team. When Will Schnitzler made a crucial interception in our own endzone to seal the victory, preventing the game from going into possible overtime, I knew that could be a big momentum builder heading into the playoffs. We grew together as a team in that game.”
“The next one was our District Semi-Final game against Kelly. With the way that we were greeted by the Kelly football team as we headed to our locker room, to the way the boys then took that and physically dominated on the football field, I knew we had something special going. Our young men had a mindset that they could be successful against anyone when they walked on the field during that playoff run. Confidence, teamwork, and discipline took them to a historical season.”
2. In a bittersweet turn of events, you lost some pretty significant talent to graduation. Do you have pieces in place to make this season a successful one as well?
“You can’t replace last year’s valuable Seniors that we have to replace this fall. That being said, we have a great group of kids who are all working together very well. This group is an absolute blast to coach. They lead the right way, and love to work. I firmly believe that this group will have success this fall. They have the desire to not only better themselves but everyone around them. That mentality will take them a long way.”
3. Each season every schedule is difficult in its own way, and every team is a threat, but are there any standout games in 2021 that will pose a significant challenge?
“Every game we play is a standout game for us. Every team we play will pose a significant challenge in their own way. We respect everyone we compete against.”
4. You recently took on the position of Athletic Director along with being the Head Coach. Does this change your approach for the 2021 season, and do you envision success in a tough and competitive division?
“Becoming the Activities Director & Head Football Coach in the Jefferson R-7 School District is something that I have always strived to accomplish ever since I went to school here in the late 80’s/early 90’s. I love this school district. This is my family’s home. The new roles that I have acquired won’t change a thing in how my staff, players and myself prepare for football games. Time management, active communication, strong preparation and organization will provide our players and staff with the proper tools that I believe will be needed to have success against a very tough Conference and District.”
5. How instrumental is the Jefferson community in what Blue Jays Football accomplishes as a program?
“Our program wouldn’t be who we are without the continued support of our players and staff by our community. The continued community support that we receive is fantastic. Our school district is the staple of our community. They go above and beyond to make sure that our players and staff are taken care of and feel supported. The crowd that drove 5 1/2 hours down to our State Semi-Final in Lamar on the Saturday after Thanksgiving really said it all. The atmosphere is something that we will never forget. Our community is a huge part in everything that we do from an activities standpoint. We couldn’t do it without their support.”
Humble and dedicated coaches tend to create the most motivated and driven teams, and that is certainly the case here with Coach (and new AD) Rouggly. Taking each game as a new and significant challenge and never underestimating your opponent seem to be key factors in this 2021 season for the Blue Jays. Their opponents would be wise to do the same with this new-look R-7 squad.
Good luck, Coach. And good luck to your Blue Jays.
Photo From Alex Rouggly’s Twitter Account