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By DANNY P. SMITH
Starkville High School offensive and defensive lineman Erik Rogers caps his senior year on the football field today when he participates in the 63rd Bernard Blackwell All-Star Classic.
Rogers led the Yellowjackets all of the way to the Class 5A State Championship game during the just-completed season and coach Jamie Mitchell said he's part of a senior class that will be missed.
"Certainly from a production standpoint, he's one that quietly went about a phenomenal senior year," Mitchell said. "He was just about unblockable for anyone we played and was the leader of our defensive front."
Rogers will try to be hard to block for the North squad when the game kicks off at noon in Biloxi. The outing will be televised locally by MY-MS.
Mitchell said Rogers was a player who could be depended upon, especially lining up around two sophomores and having linebackers David Fair and J.B. Barriare go down with season-ending injuries.
"We really relied on him in some big places," Mitchell said. "The guys up front eliminated some pressure off (the linebackers).
"You love to see good things happen to good people and he was every bit of that and more. He's a great kid and you never have to worry about him being somewhere he's not supposed to be or doing anything crazy. He's as good as they come."
Rogers had 47 tackles with six sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries for the Jackets, who went undefeated (7-0) in Class 5A, Region 2 and defeated Ridgeland 28-7 in the playoffs to capture the North Class 5A title.
"This is a year I will never forget and will be with me the rest of my life," Rogers said prior to the state championship game.
SHS defensive coordinator Brooks Oakley said the coaches never had to worry about what kind of effort Rogers was going to bring to the table.
"He's one of those guys who is going to give it everything he's got," Oakley said.
The Bernard Blackwell Classic has a North-South format and the South leads the series 28-26-4. The North won a 19-14 decision last year at Greyhound Stadium, Hugh Pepper Field in Ocean Springs that broke a two-game win streak by the South.
After being played the four decades in Jackson, the game is being held for the third-straight year on the Gulf Coast.