[Erica Benson for Shaw Media]
A year ago, the Hilltoppers managed to overcome a young defense to post a 9-2 record, but lost to Oswego in a Class 8A second-round playoff game.
With seven starters back on a defense that held four opponents to under double digits, Rodgers anticipated an improved unit. His confirmation came in summer and fall practices, when the defense managed to keep electric running back Tyquan Cox in check – at least in Rodgers' assessment.
“Last year we struggled in practices a lot going up against [Cox],” Rodgers said. “He broke out a lot against us. This year we are swarming him, and with me able to match his speed, that’s a big plus. We are stopping him. He’s the most talented running back I've ever ever seen. I think that gives the defense confidence, both for myself and everyone.”