The Jefferson R-7 Blue Jays put together the most successful and historic season in the program’s history in 2020. Not only did Head Coach Alex Rouggly’s Jays win their first ever District and Conference Titles, but the team made it all the way to the State Championship Semifinals.
A pedestrian 2-2 start to the season was quickly forgotten after the Blue Jays rattled off seven straight wins to catapult them into unprecedented territory in school history. Everything clicked. The offense scored in droves and the defense suffocated opposing attacks. The Jays were a well-oiled machine. They allowed seven or less points seven times (including two shutouts) and managed to put up at least 40 points six times. A well-balanced attack if there ever was one.
Sadly, their season ended in the State Championship Final Four matchup with powerhouse Lamar, and to add insult to injury, Jefferson graduated the bulk of their starting roster (12 Seniors to be precise). But that doesn’t mean that Coach Rouggly doesn’t have a plan in place and high expectations for 2021’s fresh-faced up-and-coming squad. Ameritime Sports caught up with him and picked his brain about what this season looks like.
We asked Coach Rouggly if there are there any key games this season, and he traditionally responded with, “Every game we play is a key game. We take nothing for granted and take it one Friday at a time. Every week is a big week for us.”
We followed up with the fact that he lost several solid players last year to graduation, but seems to have multiple hungry young athletes waiting in the wings to step up and fill those shoes. When asked what players have shown the most in the off season and look primed to make an impact this year, he said, “We have had a great off-season. Our off-season attendance has been at 97% which is fantastic. These young men are hungry. They want to create their own identity to be as successful as they possibly can be. Drew Breeze and Colton Richardson are our leaders. They continue to lead the right way.”
The Jays Head Coach gave us a list of several key athletes and what their importance is to the team. Here is how he envisions them having an impact this season.
QB Drew Breeze
RB/DB: Will Breeze
TE/LB: Colton Richardson
RB/LB: Robbie Hurley
RB/LB: Sean Usery
OL/DL: Konner Armstrong
OL/DL: Mason Campbell
OL/DL: Jackson Combs
“Leadership. We have really focused on educating our kids on quality character and leadership this off-season. This is something that is part of our weekly preparation. We feel that if our top performers lead the correct way then we can be successful,” he simply stated.
When asked what the overall strengths of this year’s team are and what he feels will be a work in progress, Coach Rouggly gave us this:
“Our overall team strength is work ethic. These young men work hard in everything that they do. There will never be an issue with effort on the field for us. We have to continue to create our own identity, not live on last year’s. This is a different team that has the potential to be successful, once that identity has been created.”
Finally, we asked him to mention any up-and-coming players as we look at week one, who are a few that have progressed the most this off season and how have they done that?
He responded with, Chase Politte comes to mind immediately. He has had a great off-season and paid his dues. It is his time to shine, along with his teammates. Chase is someone who probably would’ve started on many teams as a Sophomore or Junior. He was patient and understood his role. It is awesome to see him having the success he has had so far.”
He continued by saying, “This team is a lot of fun to coach. They are all great kids who put the betterment of the team before themselves. We are excited to get going this week and look forward to a great football game against the Fredericktown Blackcats.”
The Blue Jays have an uphill battle this season. Not only because they lost 12 key pieces of impact talent, but it’s also hard to build on the best season in the program’s history. No one is complaining about them setting the bar too high, but 2021 may be a bit more of a challenge as a result. If anyone is up to the task though, it’s Rouggly and his boys. We look forward to seeing how high these Blue Jays can fly this year.
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Good luck Blue Jays!