Two times the trouble: Burden, Rogers lead Eagles into the playoffs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 8, 2001

Sports Writer

Goshen quarterback Averick Rogers and fullback Quez Burden have traveled different paths in their Eagle football careers.

Rogers found playing time on defense and was used as a short-yardage specialist at quarterback while backing up Michael Hatten as a junior last season.

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Burden on the other hand has flourished as a multi-talented threat, becoming an All-County performer at quarterback and linebacker his sophomore and junior years before moving to fullback this year.

But both players have formed a lethal combination as seniors, leading the Eagles run to the Class 2-A playoffs and a Region 2 championship in 2001.

Rogers has been at the control of the Goshen offense, completing 77-of-149 passes for 1,221 yards and 16 touchdowns while being intercepted seven times. Rogers said knowing the quarterback job was his this year was a big lift and watching Hatten last season helped him develop.

"It felt pretty good to know I was the starting quarterback. Last year was just a learning season for me. I was just sitting back watching what he (Hatten) was doing and I just learned from him."

Burden has done his part both offensively and defensively. With his 179 yard performance in the regular-season finale against Pleasant Home, Burden went over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, averaging over 10 yards per carry while scoring 10 times.

Eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark came as a surprise to Burden.

"I didn’t know it until the end of the game. Coach (Joe) Thornton told me, so I was happy. Plus we won the game and the region championship."

Burden also said he didn’t expect to reach that mark at the start of the season.

"The fullback doesn’t really get the ball that much so when I do, I try to make the best of it. Tyrone(Crawford) got hurt, so I had to step in at tailback. That really helped a lot."

Burden has also been the leader on the defensive side of the ball, leading the Eagles in tackles. Burden said the transition from position to position over his career hasn’t been a problem.

"I’ve been able to adapt, it’s not really changing positions like in the middle of the season, it’s like each season is a different position so I’m working a whole season at one position."

Both players have had something to prove all year long. Many doubted that another run to the playoffs was possible after the Eagles lost so many key players a year ago. That has made the success in 2001 that much sweeter.

"I felt pretty good about it," Rogers said. "You know, everybody doubted us, they thought we weren’t even going to be at the top of the region. It just feels great."

"It means a lot to because even though people, they doubted us, we fed off that and it made us better and everyday in practice we worked harder," Burden said.

But there was a time when the playoffs seemed out of reach. After an 0-2 start and a loss to Red Level, Goshen’s hopes of a return trip to the playoffs started fading. But Rogers said Thornton didn’t let the Eagles lose its focus.

"He did a really good job. He kept talking to us and motivating us. We just had a bad start and as the season came on, we just got better and better."

Rodgers’ basketball abilities brought about a tough decision prior to spring practice. A chance to play at Cameron Indoor Stadium, home of the Duke Blue Devils, as part of a traveling squad for Adidas or play spring football as the starting quarterback? Uncertain at first, Rodgers opted to play football and said the sacrifice was worth it.

"It did pay off. At first I as kind of undecided and then I kind of figured out it would work out in the long-run for football and it has."

Although both players have had plenty of motivation throughout the year, Burden has had a little extra with Charles Henderson football players Melvin Scott and Rod Burden being relatives. The Trojans are currently 8-2 and headed to the Class 5A playoffs.

Burden said the trio stay in touch and although he plays at a smaller school, he thinks he has something for the Trojan duo.

"We’re real close. Melvin, he thinks he can out-hit me. I’ve been wanting to figure that out, but we don’t play Charles Henderson," he said. "And Roderick, he’s pretty fast, but I don’t think he’d be able to get me though."

Tough words, but from what Rogers, Burden and the Eagles have been able to do this season, it’s tough to doubt him.