For the past two seasons, the Dawson County parks and rec football team, lead by head coach Josh Rogers, had only mustered one win.
This year, the Tigers refused to be denied at the third grade level. The team finished 9-1, winning the Mountain League Championship.
“It means a lot,” Rogers said. “I actually took my first parks and rec team in Dawson COunty back in 2008. We had a group of boys that were really good and I just love coaching. I love coaching on a youth level because the boys are having so much fun with it. It’s not really a job, it’s just pure love of the game.”
Rogers said he credits the influx of players who signed up for the team this year that really helped encourage his group of players to step up and change their season. The team had 26 players sign up at the beginning of the season, doubling the number of players they had from the first two years.
The team faced Chestatee in the championship game, two weeks after beating them 18-0. Chestatee had won the league championship the two years prior.
The Tigers fell early with Chestatee taking a 7-0 lead after a turnover. However, the Tigers would score 19 unanswered points to take a 19-7 lead. Chestatee would score one more touchdown as time winded down, but it was too little, too late. The Tigers won the championship 19-14.
All three Tiger touchdowns were scored by quarterback Andrew Vanderoff, who Rogers said might already be faster than some seventh and eighth graders. Vanderoff ran for approximately 200 yards in the championship game and was awarded Most Valuable Player of the game.
“The tenacity and the work they put in...this is the third year I’ve had this particular team,” Rogers said. “Up until this year, we’ve won one game, but they’ve bought in. They worked hard in the offseason and we started surprising people. It’s really a special group of boys. They’ve been putting in work because we knew the kids we had signed up were solid athletes.”