Hogue, Eagles look to ‘rise up’ in 2016

by Mark Oliver

Conway Christian enjoyed great success in 2015, claiming a 10-4 record and reaching the Class 2A semifinals for the first time. This year, behind a talented senior class, the Eagles look to make school history once again.

“Something unique about our school is that every senior class we’ve had has done something different,” said Conway Christian linebacker/running back Rob Hogue. “First we made the playoffs. Then, we won a playoff game. Then we won a road playoff game. Last year, we made it to the semifinals. What’s next? This year, we want to go all the way, and we’re all on board to get there.”

Hogue was selected for this year’s 501 Football Team ¬— 26 players representing all 11 counties of the 501. The team, sponsored by First Service Bank and First Security Bank, boasts the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the field. Hogue was nominated by Conway Christian head coach, Michael Carter.

“Rob is a great leader on and off the field,” Carter wrote in his nomination. “He leads by example, he respects his opponents and is always encouraging the people around him.”

Hogue got his football start in fourth grade. Over the years, the senior has made many memories on the field with his teammates — some he says will last a lifetime.

“During my sophomore year, we lost our first game of the season, 41-0,” Hogue said. “After that game, we had a team meeting and decided how we were going to come back from that. We set a goal for ourselves — to win nine straight games and to win the conference championship — and we did just that, defeating Magnet Cove in dramatic fashion to end their streak of conference titles and win one of our own.”

Another of Hogue’s favorite memories came a year ago when the Eagles defied all odds against a powerful opponent.

“Last year, in the second round of the playoffs, we had to go to Junction City,” Hogue said. “They are a team that very seldom loses, let alone at home. They had won three consecutive state championships, and no one in the state thought we had a chance. We took that as a challenge. We studied film, we had a great week at practice and we went into that game with our heads up. Trailing 14-0 at halftime, our seniors gave us a speech that I’ll always remember. They asked us if we wanted to be a team that quit or a team that rises up to a challenge. After that speech, we came back to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, and we clinched the victory on a late field goal. It was probably our biggest win in school history.”

Conway Christian (4-1, 1-1 5-2A) plays host to top-ranked England this week, who hasn’t allowed a score in three weeks. With the Class 5-2A conference championship potentially at stake, the Eagles are focused on delivering the Lions’ first loss of 2016.

“It’s a huge game for us this week,” Hogue said. “After taking our first loss last week, it’s even more important to us to win this game. We’ve studied hard and worked hard this week to prepare for England. They’re a good team, but they go as their quarterback goes. If he is in the game and not pressured, then they will be fundamentally sound on offense. However, if we put a lot of pressure on him and force him to make bad plays, then you’ll see the rest of the team collapse with him. Not a lot of teams have been able to pressure him. Our coaches and players understand what it takes, and we’re controlled and focused on winning.”

Halfway through his final season, Hogue sees each remaining game as an opportunity to reach the Eagles’ goals.

“In my last year with this team, I just want to take them as far as I can,” Hogue said. “We are 4-1 today. I want to finish the season 9-1 and take down the rest of the conference. England, Quitman, Cutter Morning Star, Magnet Cove, Bigelow — we’re coming for all of them.”

Off the field, Hogue plays baseball and basketball and is a member of Drama Club, History Club and National Beta Club and is Student Council President at Conway Christian. The senior also volunteers as a member of First Baptist Church in Conway.

“I love to stay active,” Hogue said. “I love spending time with my friends, and I love anything outdoors. Keeping a full plate and having things to do will help me prepare for college and life. It’s good to know how to handle a busy schedule.”

After high school, the senior plans to pursue a degree in either business or physical therapy.

“When it comes to jobs, if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life,” Hogue said. “I have always been interested in physical therapy or being an athletic trainer.

Maybe I will start my own company and run the business side. I want to have a job that I really love, and I don’t think that I can go wrong either way.”  

Conway Christian plays host to England on Friday, Oct. 7.