Byrum Brown learned long ago that Noah Rogers is an accomplished “safety valve.” Rogers, while playing safety opposite a team quarterbacked by Brown in a Pop Warner game, stopped Brown at the one-yard line.
Years later, the Rolesville football teammates have played “pitch and catch” on a few safety valve completions. Rogers, now a wide receiver, has caught many of Brown’s longer passes throughout the Rams’ 24 games this 2021 calendar year. Last spring’s 2021 season concluded with Brown (6-foot-4, 185 pounds) and Rogers (6-foot-2, 182 pounds) helping Rolesville to its first N.C. (4AA) state final.
The Rams have won 18 games (nine this fall) during 2021. Rolesville, winners of four straight N.C. 4A state playoffs road games this fall, will play for another state final berth while visiting Cardinal Gibbons (Raleigh) for this Friday’s state semifinal.
Brown’s and Rogers’ surreal statistics are catalyzed by their spring accomplishments. Brown tallied a three-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio last spring. Brown, through 14 games this fall, has passed at a 68 percent completion clip for 3,481 yards, 41 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
Rogers surpassed 600 receiving yards in last spring’s 10 games. His 62 receptions and 1,307 yards this fall include 21 touchdowns.
Rolesville coach Martin Samek offered a perspective for understanding Brown’s and Rogers’ transformative impacts.
“I don’t think they stepped up,” Samek said. “I think that they got everybody else to step up. That’s what you want leaders to do.”
Brown and Rogers have participated in every Rams practice this fall, and thus, exemplified self-accountability.
This postseason, Brown passed for season bests of 373 yards and six touchdowns in the Rams’ 56-32 first round playoffs win Nov. 5 at Pinecrest (Southern Pines). This outcome reversed Rolesville’s season opening loss to the Patriots. Brown tallied another 319 passing yards and four more touchdowns in his team’s 69-49 second round win Nov. 12 at New Bern.
“You’ve got leaders by example. Sometimes, you have verbal leaders,” Samek continued. “But if you have people that can step up with you — and that’s what they’ve done — the whole team kind of jumped on that.”
Rogers has covered at least 135 yards and one touchdown in all four playoffs games, including a season best 169 yards and two touchdowns against New Bern.
Bringing others along, Rogers said, is among Brown’s very best qualities.
“He does stuff for others that some others don’t consider doing,” said Rogers, who observed Brown’s willingness to mentor a weight training classmate concerning hang cleaning and power cleaning techniques.
Helping others, Brown said, meant becoming a more verbal leader as a 12th grader. Brown’s self-cultivation and leadership applications made impressions on Samek and Rogers, an 11th grader.
“This year, if the defense gives up a big play or touchdown, all you hear him saying is ‘That’s okay, we’re going to score,’” Samek said. “He’ll run up and down the sidelines and tell everybody that.
“The team believes if a team scores 80 points, we’ll score 81.”
Rogers knows Brown will exhort him to instruct his fellow wide receivers, too. For Brown — a South Florida commit who intends to graduate early and enroll in college for the spring 2022 term — his methods are part of a larger plan.
“Next year” Brown said concerning Rogers, “it’s going to be his team.”
Brown relies on Rogers and his jovial demeanor for uplifting inspiration after tough days. Rogers, meanwhile, understands and articulates Brown’s directive clearly. To achieve that directive within and beyond football, Rogers knows he must become even more vocal.
“I can’t have any people lagging behind us, and being that guy who’s the reason why we’re a step behind,” Rogers said. “By him (Brown) making sure I’m more vocal (it) is going to help, not just in football but in life, too.”
For now, there still is a little more Rams football to be played. Friday’s state semifinal will be played across the street from N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium — last spring’s and this fall’s state final venue. Brown and Rogers, in a way, are back on that Pop Warner one-yard line, albeit together this time.
“We’re almost at the finish line,” Rogers said. “We’ve got to pull through, because we came too far to stop.”