By DOUG DONNELLY
TOLEDO, Ohio – Brogan Roback has read the stats and checked out the trophy case at Sand Creek High School. He’s heard the stories of the athletic prowess of his father, Bill Roback, with the Aggies in the mid-1970s.
“I try not to talk to him too much about it in front of him, but, yeah, he was a great athlete,” Roback said. “The numbers don’t lie. He played a couple sports in college. He was a good athlete for sure.”
The elder Roback was good, but the younger Roback is surpassing even his father’s expectations. He was an All-American football player in high school at St. John Jesuit in Toledo. He probably could have been a nationally-recruited basketball player had he stuck with that sport. Today, Roback is the starting quarterback at Eastern Michigan University. The Eagles go on the road this weekend to face nationally-ranked the Toledo Rockets. A throng of Lenawee County fans will be watching up close their cousin.
“The last time he played at Toledo, I bet there were 60 or 70 people from Sand Creek and Adrian in the stands to watch him,” Bill Roback said. “He’s got a great following and family from the Adrian area.”
Roback was an All-State football and basketball player at Sand Creek. He once held the Aggie basketball record for most points in a game and was the all-time leading scorer in Tri-County Conference history when he graduated. He scored more than 1,400 points and pulled down 960 career rebounds. In football, he was all conference, all-county and all-state.
“If he wasn’t All-State in basketball as a senior, then I don’t know what an All-Stater is,” former Sand Creek coach Charlie Risner said about Roback.
“Those were good times,” Roback said. “We had some great teams and I played with some really great guys.”
Bill would go on to play football at Western Michigan University before an injury ended his football career. He moved closer to home and played basketball at Adrian College. After college he began teaching in Bryan, Ohio, before moving on to Wauseon. He coached at various times as well, including a stint at Fayette when he coached varsity boys basketball. He would bring his teams to scrimmage Sand Creek on occasion. He recently retired as a teacher and coach.
He and his wife, Ronda, live in Maumee, Ohio. Their daughter Paige was an All-American volleyball player whose name is found throughout the Eastern Michigan University record book. Brogan – the name was chosen by Mrs. Roback – was a highly thought of high school quarterback at St. John’s Jesuit, passing for 5,887 career yards and 60 touchdowns. He was recruited by several Mid-American Conference schools and visited Michigan and Wisconsin before choosing EMU.
He played at EMU right away, but sat out his sophomore year with an injury. He’s back this year as the starting QB for the Eagles. In a game against Wyoming he threw for 330 yards and three TDs. Against No. 9 LSU, Roback threw for 161 yards and a TD. Saturday, they will take on Toledo, another team in the top 25.
“It’s going to be quite a homecoming for me,” Roback said. “I love playing there. There are so many family and friends that come out and support me – a lot of them from my dad’s hometown and Adrian. It’s great because some of the people just know my name ‘Roback’ and they come out and support me.”
Roback said his father was his first coach and taught him a lot about sports.
“I learned everything I know because of him,” he said. “He’s not my coach anymore, but he still coaches me. I might be a Division 1 athlete, but he still sees things and gives me his take on what I am doing or not doing. He just wants me to do my best and not leave anything out there.”
Roback also has quite a pedigree on his mother’s side of the family. A great uncle played professional football and his mom’s brother pitched for the Cleveland Indians.
His father said his kids have enjoyed a lot of success in sports.
“It’s been great watching them grow up and get to go to all of these sporting events,” he said. “Brogan is such a good athlete. I think he could have been a big-time basketball player, too, but he chose football. It goes by so quick. It’s been great watching Paige and now him.”