Former Lee High School and Bolles School head football coach Corky Rogers, who raised the standard for Florida football to new heights and guided the development of thousands of players during a coaching career that spanned portions of six decades, died Wednesday at age 76.
A coaching legend who grew up on Jacksonville’s Westside and built a legacy and influence that extended far beyond Duval County’s boundaries, Mr. Rogers won more championships and games than any other coach in Florida football history.
Bolles provided the following statement:
"As some of you may have heard, we are saddened to learn of the recent passing of our legendary former head coach Charles “Corky” Rogers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rogers family at this time. We will communicate further details as plans emerge to celebrate his storied career, his impact on our community and his many life successes."
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Famed for his Wing-T offense, rigorous attention to detail and relentless focus on the fundamentals of winning football, he developed alma mater Lee High School into a state contender in the 1970s and 1980s and later honed The Bolles School into an unparalleled juggernaut during his 28 seasons on the sidelines of Skinner-Barco Stadium.
The cause was not disclosed, but Mr. Rogers had suffered from numerous medical complications since health issues compelled him to step away from coaching after the 2016 season.
He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Linda, daughters Tracy and Jennifer, and six grandchildren.
Mr. Rogers still stands alone as Florida’s all-time football leader in games won, with 465, and state championships, with 10.
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In 45 years as a head coach, he reached the Florida High School Athletic Association title game 16 times. He never had a losing season — every one of his squads finished the season at .500 or better, and all but the first two concluded their years with winning records.
Mr. Rogers served as head coach at Lee from 1972 to 1988 and at Bolles from 1989 to 2016. He also served an earlier stint as an assistant at Ribault from 1969 to 1971, a span that marked the start of his coaching career.
The Times-Union, the FHSAA and most other records list Mr. Rogers with a career won-lost mark of 465-84-1, while the National Federation of State High School Associations also credits him with a 466th victory.
He was born Charles Buxton Rogers IV on Dec. 19, 1943, in Bay City, Mich., where his father, Chuck, was stationed during World War II. Corky Rogers acquired his nickname after the son of World War II hero Colin Kelly, a Madison native who died in combat in the Philippines three days after the Pearl Harbor attacks.
The family moved back to Jacksonville in the late 1940s, where Corky Rogers followed in the path of his father — an original Lee graduate in 1929 and later a captain of the University of Florida football team — on the Lee squad.
A multi-sport athlete, Mr. Rogers lined up on the Lee football backfield and won the Class 2A state baseball title in 1961, the year of his graduation. Mr. Rogers’ 1960 Generals team, still three years before the FHSAA held an official championship tournament, was viewed as a legitimate claimant to the title of Florida’s best.
From there, he went on to compete at Georgia Tech under Hall of Fame coach Bobby Dodd, playing at end and finishing his college career after the 1965 season at the Gator Bowl in a 31-21 win against Texas Tech.
After a brief stint in training camp with the NFL’s Baltimore Colts, where he was among the last roster cuts for head coach Don Shula, Mr. Rogers returned to Jacksonville and worked briefly in the insurance industry. Then, in 1969, he assumed his first coaching job on the staff of a Ribault team that finished the year 0-10.
Mr. Rogers moved to Bolles in 1989, where he worked alongside a seasoned team of dedicated assistants to build a Bulldogs squad that rose to the pinnacle of Florida football by his second season and, within two years, was known and feared throughout the state.
Mr. Rogers won a record 10 FHSAA championships at Bolles: 1990, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011. His 1996 team climbed to the No. 1 national ranking, before injuries derailed the Bulldogs’ quest in a 14-13 upset loss to Bartow in the state championship game.
He set Florida’s record for coaching victories in September 2004, winning his 314th game against Stanton to surpass the state mark of Tallahassee’s Gene Cox.
Among the most remarkable statistics from Mr. Rogers’ career: 82 wins in the FHSAA postseason tournament, 71 victories against state-ranked opponents and a 91-game winning streak in district play, a run that extended from Nov. 20, 1992 (defeating Bishop Kenny) to Oct. 21, 2011 (losing to Raines). The streak extended so long that most Bolles students at its end were not even born when it began.
During his Bolles career, more than 150 players who played for Mr. Rogers went on to college football.
Mr. Rogers fought on through multiple health complications, several of them life-threatening. He survived a devastating car crash in 1988; the wreck, caused by a hit-and-run drunken driver, forced him to undergo more than a dozen leg surgeries. He also returned to the sidelines after septuple bypass surgery in 2012.
In 2019, Bolles erected the Corky Rogers Plaza in his honor at the north side of Skinner-Barco Stadium.
Mr. Rogers earned induction into numerous state and national football halls of fame, including the FHSAA Hall of Fame in 2005, the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 2013 and the NFHS Hall of Fame in 2015.