By TOM WILLIAMS
Most OCHS sports fans have memories of Ray Rogers.
Maybe it was the 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown his sophomore year against Mainland that is the longest kickoff return in the 104 years of Ocean City High School football.
Current OCHS coach Kevin Smith remembers one play in particular.
“We were playing Oakcrest over at their place,” he said, “and their receiver was split. I was responsible for the defensive backs and I called Ray’s attention to it. He gave me a look and said, ‘watch this’. He waited for the right moment, undercut the route and intercepted the pass for a pick six.”
Rogers, who died suddenly today, had three interceptions in that Oakcrest game, tying a school record held at the time by George Loder and John Huff. And he made 10 interceptions in his three-year career, still the most in school history.
His career began as a freshman, starting at defensive back on the 1996 OCHS football team, which some feel might have been the best in Cape-Atlantic League history.
It finished with him as part of the OCHS All-Century Football Team (see it HERE) in the defensive secondary with John LePore, Joe Avis, Jack Davis, Joe Myers, David Miller and Josh Baker. And he was on the Cape-Atlantic League’s All-Century Team (HERE) as well, joining Paul Ordille and John Mitrovic of St. Joseph, Damon Troy of Middle Township and Oakcrest’s Cory Bird, who went on to play for the Indianapolis Colts, on the second team.
Some fans, like trailblazing videographer Matt Ulmer, remember the game against Egg Harbor Township, when Rogers ran down champion EHT sprinter Cory Collins from behind to save a touchdown.
Rogers also played basketball.
He played in nine games as a freshman, averaging 12.8 points per game and scoring in double figures in seven straight games. That included a 23-point performance against Millville, which is still the most points ever scored by an OCHS freshman in a varsity game.
He had six children and the two oldest have already made their mark in high school sports. His daughter, Kalla, who will start her senior year next month, is part of the track and basketball teams at Mainland. His son, Jaden, graduated from OCHS in 2020 where he was a successful two-way football player and runner on the track team.
Rogers, who had become a successful chef in Atlantic City, lost the love of his life, Regina, when she died suddenly last week. He lost consciousness today at her funeral and could not be revived.
He wasn’t around as long as he should have been but particularly in those three years when he wore the Ocean City High School uniforms in the late 1990s, he created a lot of memories.
Ray Rogers would have been 42 in two weeks.