Following Argyle’s 42-14 victory over Melissa in a Class 3A Division II area-round playoff game Friday, Argyle Principal Jeff Butts stood outside a circle of reporters talking to Eagles coach Todd Rodgers, waiting to whisk him away to the home sideline.
That’s where his players, some Argyle supporters and a few trinkets were awaiting Rodgers. Butts interrupted the reporters, took Rodgers and slung his right arm around the head coach who’s turned Argyle into a state power.
Friday’s win was Rodgers’ 100th at Argyle, an achievement that seemed unlikely when he took over a struggling program in the summer of 2003.
“Todd took a football program that was very average at best and made it one of the best in the state of Texas, first in Class 2A and then in Class 3A,” Butts said.
Rodgers has taken Argyle to two state championship games — one in 2A in 2005 and last year’s 3A Division II final. The Eagles (11-1) have made the playoffs in nine straight seasons, and this year they’ve won 11 straight games.
The trinkets awaiting Rodgers were a game ball to commemorate the win and a framed red and white map of Texas. The map features every one of Rodgers’ wins in his 10 years plotted out across the state’s landscape with red dots.
Bordering the map is a list of his victories at Argyle, starting with Alvord at No. 1 and finishing with Melissa at No. 100.
Rodgers received the wood-framed map and gazed at it for a while underneath his camouflage hat.
“That’s a lot of travel,” Rodgers said. “I’m pretty emotional right now.”
The year before Rodgers took over, while he was still the defensive coordinator at Flower Mound Marcus, Argyle went 1-9 in its first year playing football in 2002.
“I knew it had potential. I just didn’t know the magnitude of the potential,” Rodgers said of Argyle’s football program. “The community was hungry for football, and I was hungry to win and show them what it looked like. They were very cordial and compliant and fired up about the direction I was taking the program.”
Argyle assistant coach Ricky Griffin said Rodgers, one of his close friends, is best at maintaining distance from his assistant coaches and letting them do their job.
“He’s really easy to work for because he’s a coach that wants you to get your work done, and he’ll step back and let you do it,” Griffin said. “That’s not always the case. Some of them want to have their hands in everything. He oversees everything as our leader, but he trusts that we know how to coach and he lets us do it.”
Butts, the eighth-year principal, said he couldn’t imagine what the program would be like without Rodgers and said he hopes that day never comes. Butts said the effect Rodgers has had on the community with a high school enrollment of 668 has been tremendous.
“In the state of Texas, period, there’s nothing more that can bring a community together than a football program,” Butts said. “And when you have one as successful as Argyle’s is, it builds pride in the community and makes the school go well.”
When Argyle faces either Atlanta or Gilmer at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mesquite’s Memorial Stadium, Rodgers will be trying to notch win No. 101.
When Rodgers was asked if he could pick win No. 104, which if it came this season would be in the state title game, Rodgers quickly replied: “God willing and the creeks don’t rise.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.