ROGERS (KFSM)--Between 2014 and 2015, the Mounties totaled three wins, the second lowest total in the 7A (Springdale). But with the addition of experienced head coach Mike Loyd last fall, something shifted in Rogers.
"Right when Coach Loyd got here he immediately changed the program. He changed it to a program where we no longer take a backseat to anyone," senior Hunter Hawkins said.
"Coming out of a 1-9 season, 2-8 seasons and Coach Loyd's first season here he created a winning football program," said senior running back Colin McWhorter. "And I think he just kind of gave us a swagger about ourselves that we don't have to back down from anybody."
Rogers swept its non-conference slate before beating Heritage, Van Buren and Springdale to finish tied for fourth in the 7A West. The Mounties then fell to Conway in the first round of the playoffs.
"To go to the playoffs and have a winning season after I think they went 1-9, 2-8, these kids are excited," Loyd said. "They experienced winning last year. They experienced going to the playoffs and you can kind of feel that excitement here."
As McWhorter put it, "Last year we were knocked out in the first round. A lot of people look at that as a dissapointment, but we look at it as we went from 1-9 and the next season we're contenders for the state playoffs."
Repeat success won't come easy, as Rogers graduated 36 seniors including offensive threats Max Horton, Grayson Lee and Jake Benninghoff.
"You really don't want in the 7A West to have to start a bunch of sophomores, but right now it is what it is. You make the best of it, don't make excuses and go out and compete," second year head coach Mike Loyd said.
Rogers opens the season at Siloam Springs on September 1, but that doesn't stop Hawkins from looking ahead to conference play.
"To have the mentality that we can win, and we will compete and we can beat every team on our schedule. That we can beat the Har-Ber's and Bentonville's and Fayetteville's. That we know we no longer have to be scared of them."