Tucker’s record-breaking season not done yetWritten by Chris Schmidbauer | | email@example.com
The motto at Rogers High School is “Writing success stories … one student at a time.” For the 2009 Rogers Rams football team, that success story has not yet concluded, thanks in large part to the play of local football prodigy E.J. Tucker.
Tucker and the Rams capped off a 9-1 regular season record with a win over Scott Oct.31, and the team earned a spot in the state playoffs, where they will take on Maple Heights.
“We feel that we, as a team, are exactly where we thought we would be right now,” said Rams head coach Rick Rios . “E.J. has been a large part of that success we have had this year.”
Tucker, a senior quarterback, has been a one-man wrecking crew, demolishing opposing defenses all season long, while running the Rams spread offense this season. The signal caller led the City League in scoring (21 touchdowns), rushing (1049 yards on 165 attempts) and passing (73-133 for 1325 yards) this past season.
“Well, it is always nice when your trigger man is also your best player,” Rios said. “He is a great runner and he has really worked hard on becoming a better passer. When he added the passing game to his repertoire, it made our offense that much better.”
Tucker worked hard this past off season to make his passing abilities more comparable to his running abilities, in an effort to make himself a more complete quarterback. His hard work has not gone unnoticed, as he has attracted the attention of several college football programs, including the UT Rockets.
“This summer I worked on my passing game a whole lot,” Tucker said. “Last year, I ran the ball more, and the main thing I wanted to do this past off-season was work on the passing game to offset the defenses a little more and the work has paid off this year.”
Tucker’s play resulted in several school records being broken this year. That task is no easy feat considering the school boasts former players like current NFL tight end Fred Davis and the late Drushaun Humphrey, who was a prized football recruit before his death in 2001.
“With our schedule that we played and the situations that our games have turned into, E.J. has not played past the third quarter in five of our games,” Rios said. “It is scary to think about how much more impressive his stats would have been had we allowed him to play full games throughout the whole season.”
Tucker, however, takes no solace in the numerous records and accolades he has garnered through his play during his final high school football campaign.
“It feels good,” he said. “I just am doing my job though and I really do not pay a whole lot of attention to the stats and records. I just try to go out there and help our team win.”
While it is clear that Tucker is gifted athletically, Rios said that is only part of what has made the quarterback special and a joy to coach. He has noticed his field general’s leadership qualities have evolved too, which has made a significant impact on the Rams.
“He carries himself well on the field, and he has that swagger about himself that you would have seen from Freddy (Davis) and Dru (Humphrey). E.J. has taken over when games were on the line and he let our guys know that it was time to step it up. He backs that up and takes his play to the next level, too.”
While Rios and his team had set a state playoff birth as a main goal this season, the Rams want more now that they have qualified for postseason play. The team hopes to be the first Toledo Public Schools football team to win a state playoff game.
“We have been to the playoffs twice now since I have coached here, and we lost in both of those games,” Rios said. “We want to be that first TPS school to win a playoff game. That is something we have a chance to do this weekend.”
Rios’ hunger for success in the playoffs is matched by Tucker. The man under center for the Rams is going to do everything he can to help Rogers make a magical run deep into the postseason.
“Every team is tough in the playoffs,” Tucker said. “I am going to go out there and give it my all, and hopefully we can come away with a couple of wins in the playoffs.”