Friday, May 24, 2024

Rogers old rival now starter for Boilers

November 15, 2001
Sophomore wide receiver Charles Rogers runs the ball for a touchdown as Notre Dame cornerback Clifford Jefferson follows closely behind at the game Sept. 22.

Take away the canyons, anvils and the cartoon attributes, and sophomore wide receiver Charles Rogers and Purdue safety Stuart Schweigert could pass for Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner.

Both Saginaw natives have speed, and narrowly edged each other out in the 100- and 200-meter state championships in high school.

And both have a history of competing, going head-to-head in track, football and basketball since their sophomore year of high school.

So when MSU visits Purdue on Saturday, it will be no surprise that both Rogers and Schweigert will be looking to get the best of each other again.

“There will probably be a little talk back-and-forth,” said Schweigert, who leads the Boilermakers in tackles with 69. “We’ll definitely step it up to another level against each other since we want to beat each other at every facet of the game.”

In his first year of game action, Rogers has proven to be a game breaker for the Spartans. He’s averaging more than 20 yards per catch, tying for a team high seven touchdowns.

“He’s a home run kind of guy,” said Schweigert of Rogers.

“There’s no question that he has big play potential every time he steps on the field. But I can’t get too caught up in our history come Saturday. It’s not going to be Schweigert versus Rogers, it’s Purdue versus MSU.”

Although Rogers has been able to blow past a handful of opposing defenders this season with his world-class speed, he knows that his athleticism will be matched against Schweigert - last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

“I’m sure he’ll let me know he’s there,” said Rogers, who remembers Schweigert as an impressive option quarterback in high school. “In high school he did the same thing. It should be pretty interesting out there. I’ve always known that he’s had speed, so I’m not surprised that he’s having so much success at safety.”

Purdue head coach Joe Tiller isn’t surprised that Schweigert has adapted well to the Big Ten’s physical style of play.

But Tiller knows that Schweigert will have his hands full against Rogers and senior wide receiver Herb Haygood, a duo he considers to be the best receiving corps in the Big Ten.

“Certainly with his interceptions he’s a very good center fielder, and I mean that literally,” Tiller said. “He can go and cover either side of the field with his speed. His strength is pass defense, and he’s been a very good open tackler. Saturday’s game will definitely be a test for him.”

If history is any indication, this contest shouldn’t disappoint.

In the high school track and field state finals in 2000, both athletes fared well, especially in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

Rogers won the 200-meter dash that year for Saginaw High School and finished second in the 100-yard dash.

Schweigert, who came in third in the 2000, also came in third in the 100-meter race for Heritage High School.

Because both athletes have also had memorable games against each other in football and basketball, the rivalry is regarded as one of the state’s best, said Ron Pesch, a Michigan High School Athletic Association historian.

Pesch compares the Rogers-Schweigert rivalry to the legendary basketball battles of Dave DeBusschere, formerly of Detroit and Chet “The Jet” Walker of Benton Harbor.

Both DeBusschere and Walker continued their success to the NBA - DeBusschere with the New York Knicks and Walker with the Chicago Bulls.

“It’s certainly one of those classic matchups that will be talked about in the future,” Pesch said. “You run into examples of rivalries that gain a luster as time goes on. This one shouldn’t be any exception.”


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