Argyle football coach Todd Rodgers is used to denying himself the opportunity to celebrate. When you’re a head coach, that’s simply not something you do at any point throughout a season. There’s too much going on and too much that can go wrong if you take your eye off the day-to-day grind for even a second. After all, just when you wrap up beating one opponent, you have to turn around and start prepping for the next one immediately.
But there are no more opponents. The Eagles beat them all, giving Rodgers every reason to finally enjoy the moment.
Last month, Rodgers’ Argyle Eagles capped a perfect 16-0 season with a 49-21 win over Lindale to capture the Class 4A Division I state title in front of a COVID-19 limited but raucous crowd at AT&T Stadium.
It was the program’s first state title win since 2013 and sixth appearance in a title game overall.
“You have to deny yourself the celebration because you’re always moving on to the next thing,” Rodgers said. “But with state ending before Christmas, and all the church services talking about the importance of being grateful, it’s awesome because you can finally have that moment of clarity in regards to all the people who played a role in this process.”
He added, “I love that. Without a doubt.”
The Eagles were the top-ranked team in 4A from start to finish and never once trailed in any of their games. The win over Lindale cemented that dominance, as Argyle jumped out to a 28-0 lead by halftime and finished the game with 571 total yards. Defensively, the Eagles held Lindale running back Jordan Jenkins, who entered the game with nearly 3,000 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns, to 110 yards and one score in the loss.
Meanwhile, Argyle running back Tito Byce was named Offensive MVP after rushing for 153 yards and four touchdowns. Zach Stewart was named Defensive MVP, finishing with a team-leading nine tackles.
“I think we played all year with an edge,” Stewart told the Denton Record-Chronicle after the game. “After last year, we didn’t play too good. We felt we needed to go out and prove ourselves every game, and I think we did that.”
Coming into this season, the Eagles were only 1-4 in championship games, having lost in 2005, 2011, 2014, and 2015. They were not going to be denied this season, as they outscored opponents 770-248. Their playoff road included wins over North Dallas, Stephenville, Waco La Vega, Paris, and Canyon.
Rodgers stopped short of comparing his 2013 championship team to this year’s squad, going so far as to say that there isn’t much difference between the teams that won it all and his squads that came up just a little short.
“Each team had its own dynamics that made everything work,” Rodgers said. “They both got gold rings and gold trophies, and there are several MVPs as a result of those games. In my eyes, there’s just not that much difference. Even the teams that came in second place; we were within one score of winning several more [state titles] with them.”
As for the future, Rodgers admits he and the rest of his coaching staff will have their hands full next year. Graduation will again hit their roster hard, which means several new faces must step into big roles.
“But we’ve done that before,” Rodgers said. “We’ll start building the team back up in January.”
There’s no doubt that will be the case. And like usual, the Eagles will be right back in the hunt for another title.
photo courtesy of Argyle ISD