Jagger LaRoe laughs when he thinks back to his first day attending Colleyville Heritage High School.
“I missed my first class. It’s such a big school, I couldn’t find my room,” he said.
Suffice to say he knows his way around quite well now, and not just throughout the school’s halls. He’s very adept on the football field, quarterbacking the Panthers to a successful season.
LaRoe has learned to be quick to adapt, and to do so with much success. As a junior last season, he led the Dallas Bishop Lynch Friars to a Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Division I state championship. It was his only season at the school, as he had previously played junior varsity at Dallas Jesuit.
His brother, in fact, played soccer for Jesuit and won a 6A state championship last season.
“Jesuit’s a great school, but I didn’t enjoy the non co-ed environment,” he said. “I loved playing at Bishop Lynch, but things change for a reason, so here I am at Colleyville.”
Though short, his experience at Lynch was something special, which he is hoping will also be the case with the Panthers.
The Friars entered the postseason with a 5-5 record. Then, something clicked and they got on a roll, something LaRoe said he feels is also happening at Heritage, though they aren’t waiting on the postseason for special things.
“Everything was focused to a singular goal. We really focused and pulled together in the postseason,” he said of the Friars. “It’s the same thing at Colleyville, we’re focused on that one goal.”
That one goal, of course, is winning a state championship. While there is still a lot of the regular season left to play, given the way LaRoe and his teammates are playing, the goal is understandable.
After all, the Panthers returned six starters on both sides of the ball from last season’s 10-4 season. This included highly touted wide receiver Ke’Von Ahmad, who was also one of the first to befriend LaRoe when he came to the school.
“That helped make everything smooth with my transition,” LaRoe said. “Going through the spring and getting to know all the guys, we bonded well, and that helped comfort me.”
Of course, LaRoe has proven his worth. Through the first six games of the season he completed 67 percent of his passes with an 11-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and almost 1,200 yards. He has already surpassed his nine touchdowns at Lynch last season, and is on pace to surpass his completion percentage (59) and yardage (almost 1,500) from a year ago.
LaRoe gave some thought to continuing at Bishop Lynch after his family moved to Colleyville. However, it was just too far to drive, he decided.
“With traffic, it would have been an hour and a half,” he said. “But yes, I did consider it. I’m glad now that I didn’t.”
So are a lot of others, including Panthers coach Joe Willis.
“Jagger is an intelligent young man who is driven and motivated to be successful in the classroom and on the field both,” Willis said. “His leadership is based on the work he has put in this spring and summer, and that has continued through this fall. His unselfishness and hard work has been a nice addition.”
Willis said LaRoe’s ability to step in and lead the team after leaving behind a team at Lynch that returned a lot of talent from its state title squad.
“I think it says that he is mature and ready for the real world, where changes and challenges are always waiting around the corner,” Willis said. “There is an intelligence that shows when young people are able to change, adapt and compete. That’s important, whether we’re talking football, college, or career. He will do well in all three areas.”
LaRoe said his success at Lynch is playing strongly into the season he is having at Heritage. Most notably, he said the postseason run was critical.
“Watching some of those leaders, we got more comfortable as we progressed,” he said. “We began to take charge, and in the end we were a great team.”
LaRoe, who plays no other sports, wants to play football in college and he wants to study pre-med or biology. He also understands that scouts are likely still doing some evaluating, given this is his second system in as many seasons — but he has been successful, no matter the system.
“Right now I’m focused on my goals and the team’s goals,” he said. “If you play your brand of football and do it well, that won’t affect people’s judgments. When I play my best football, people will notice.”