Highland's Jack McGinty carries the ball in the first half of Friday's game against Aurora at Aurora High School. (NICK CAMMETT/GAZETTE)
AURORA — Jake Rogers does his thing for Highland’s football team, but the senior loves sharing the spotlight.
While the all-purpose back was still the star of the game Friday, he stood alongside the defense in a key 28-3 Suburban League American Conference win over Aurora.
The Greenmen (4-3, 2-2) came in with solid numbers, but left Veterans Stadium looking very ordinary against a Hornets defense that stood tall.
“They were awesome,” Highland coach Mike Gibbons said. “If we don’t fumble that opening kickoff (which led to a field goal), I don’t know if they score all night. We had a big task with their quarterback (Colin McNamara) being so athletic and being a runner. They formation you to death. They really stepped up to the challenge and swarmed.”
Linebacker Jack Myers was incredible with two fourth-down tackles, one coming inside the red zone just before halftime and one in the fourth quarter with the game still in question.
Lukas Nemetz added an interception — his third in three games — and so did Bryce Profitt. Rogers also had a sack deep in Aurora territory that led to a touchdown in the first half.
What’s more, the Hornets (6-1, 3-0) all but knocked the Greenmen out of the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons. A team averaging 23 points and 280 yards, Aurora was held to 175 yards.
Fifty-seven yards came on one play just before intermission as Highland held its opponent to 14 points or less for the third consecutive week.
“We come out of practice every day with an insane mentality to get the job done,” Myers said. “For once, I can say we did that 100 percent completely. We were a little upset last week because we held (Green) to 13 points but gave up a lot of yards rushing.
“This game, it was our motive to shut them down completely on offense. We’re super close to being that 100 percent team. We get better every single week, and I’m really excited to see it play out throughout the playoffs.”
Then there was Rogers, who should be getting fitted for a Superman cape by this point.
With interest from Michigan State, Ohio State, Akron, Kent State, Bowling Green, Ohio and Toledo, the senior is making football fields his playground.
Rogers ran 26 times for 148 yards and a touchdown. He caught two passes for 81 yards and two scores and had two punt returns for 22 yards.
“I really am running out of words to describe this kid,” Gibbons said. “He’s always on, but again, he’s a great kid. I hope everyone understands that he’s a hard worker, a great human being and great football player as well.”
Rogers opened the scoring for Highland with a 20-yard run in the first quarter, caught a 13-yard touchdown in the third quarter and had a 68-yard fourth-quarter score to close.
That helped Jack McGinty go 5-for-10 for 107 yards and three touchdowns, as his other TD was to Brady Linder from 3 yards.
“It boosts my confidence so much when he’s there in the backfield,” McGinty said. “He’s the most dangerous weapon in the Suburban League, for sure. It just gives me that feeling of confidence. He’s able to extend plays. He’s bouncing off kids and gets it done. We’re really fortunate to have a kid like that on our team.”
In turn, Rogers knows he doesn’t amount to much without the help of his team, even though he’s a human highlight reel.
“A lot of people say, ‘How do you do that?’” Rogers said. “It’s the work in the summer we all put in as a team. It feels good when it’s a basic play that only is designed to get a couple of yards that you can break for a lot of yards, but the offensive line and quarterback did outstanding today.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.
Highland 28, Aurora 7
HIGHLAND 7 7 7 7 — 28
AURORA 3 0 0 0 — 3
A — Kyle Obly 30 field goal, 9:49.
H — Jake Rogers 20 run (Logan Spittle kick), 7:15.
H — Brady Linder 3 pass from Jack McGinty (Spittle kick), 9:24.
H — Rogers 13 pass from McGinty (Spittle kick), 5:56.
H — Rogers 68 pass from McGinty (Spittle kick), 7:37.