Michael Rogers said the move was to catch up academically to be college eligible. Richard Obert/azcentral sports

Two-sport star Michael Rogers said he has transferred from Laveen Cesar Chavez and will spend his senior year at Phoenix South Pointe.

South Pointe is a charter school that is a member of the Canyon Athletic Association and plays 11-man football.

This was not an athletically motivated move for Rogers, but academically necessary so he’ll be able to graduate in May and continue his college career in either football or basketball. Rogers, who moved from New York before his sophomore year, said a prep-school experience his freshman year caused him to play catchup academically.

“School is the most important part of any sport, anything, period,” said Rogers, who is ranked among the top 10 running backs for the 2017 season by azcentral sports. “I’m here to get my school stuff together, to make sure I’m on the right track back to eligibility and staying focused. I feel it’s a good move.”

Rogers, 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, a running back and linebacker, led 6A rushers in average yards per carry last season, helping Chavez win the Metro Region championship and reach the 6A playoffs. He also led Chavez’s basketball team to the state semifinals last season as the team’s top scorer.

He will play both sports at South Pointe and be immediately eligible, because South Pointe is not part of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

“It’s hard when you lose an athlete of that caliber in both sports, but his first order of business was to make sure he graduated on time,” Cesar Chavez basketball coach Gary Lee said. “Mike’s got a good heart. … He had a few hiccups along the way, which is normal. He’s trying to clean it all up.”

Lee has no doubt in his mind that Rogers is a Division I college athlete if he can qualify academically.

At South Pointe, he’ll be able to accelerate his academics, taking online and classroom courses.

After a three-year hiatus, South Pointe, once a member of the AIA, restarted its football program this year under former Chandler High football and track standout Mikhail Barton, who went to Boise State.

“Mike, he’s a special player,” Barton said. “Getting him right academically, making sure he takes care of his off-the-field issues, we can get him college ready. We can teach him how to break down film, the Xs and Os of football. He’s already a physical specimen.”

Lee said Rogers wasn’t going to play sports had he stayed at Chavez “because of the time commitment needed to catch up and graduate.”

“It would be nice to see him on the biggest stage,” Lee said. “But he’s still progressing as an athlete.”

Chavez QB/K Ritchie battling blood disorder

New Chavez football coach Manny Alcantar also will be without the services of Carlos Ritchie, who started the first half of last season at quarterback at Cesar Chavez and made azcentral sports’ preseason All-Arizona team as a punter. At least, for the first couple of games, it appears.

Ritchie said he has been battling a blood disorder, which has kept him out of pads. He said it is not cancer, but he needs to get his blood readings at a certain number to play. He has to go through the 10-day pads protocol in order to play, and feels now he has it under control to return to the field.

“It’s been one of the hardest things, to watch my family playing and me not being able to play,” he said. “It feels like I let the down. I have the itch to play.”

Hamilton has no rallying cry

Chandler Hamilton football has been part of more offseason headlines than any year before, and not for good reasons.

It is starting a new season Friday at Anthem Boulder Creek following a turbulent spring and summer with a hazing scandal that had six players arrested, three charged with crimes, including one as an adult. Coach Steve Belles was not brought back to coach this season, but, according to interim head coach Dick Banisziewski, the staff from last year is “intact.” Hamilton in the spring added the additions of two new assistants, Jerry Wheeler and Brian Belles. Brian, who was Cactus coach Larry Fetkenhier’s defensive coordinator the past 15 years, is Steve Belles’ nephew.

Chandler police has recommended to the Maricopa County Attorney charges against Steve Belles, Principal Ken James and Athletic Director Shawn Rustad, and families of five victims have now filed claims against the Chandler Unified School District, seeking a total of $34 million over allegations that coaches took steps to cover up the attacks.

“We’re focused on the task at hand,” Banisziewski said. “I think the kids are focused on what they can do. I don’t think we used anything like (the off-field stuff) as motivation. We’re still here. We’re still going to play football. There’s no rallying cry.”

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To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at [email protected] or 602-316-8827. Follow him at Watch azcentral sports high school football Facebook live every Wednesday at 7 p.m.


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