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Madison football coach has new perspective after health scare

Roger Harris will be the offensive line coach at Madison this season, a season he's looking at with a fresh perspective -- because this opportunity almost didn't happen. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Roger Harris will be the offensive line coach at Madison this season, a season he's looking at with a fresh perspective -- because this opportunity almost didn't happen.

Harris, this week's Game changer, has been passionate about coaching for most of his life.

"Being around young people, they will teach you more than you'll ever dream of if you let them," he said.

Harris has been a part of the game for a long time.

"In 1994, I was part of the state championship at Burns. In 2011 and 2012, we played for state championships when I was the head coach at Asheville School," Harris said. "I've been very fortunate. I've coached a lot of good kids who have made me look like a good coach."

Harris' current and former players have high praise for his coaching style.

"He has a lot of experience. And he's been to a lot of different schools. And he knows what he's talking about. Most of all, he is the greatest motivator that I know," Madison senior running back Ty Snelson said.

And his fellow coaches agree.

"He was very enthusiastic, very passionate about what he did. He is one of those coaches that you love him 20 years later. But when he's coaching you, he drives you crazy," Burns wide receivers coach Chad Beam said.

Indeed, Harris may have driven himself too far last season.

"After Madison played North Buncombe, that Monday and Tuesday I did not go to practice because I wasn't feeling well. I collapsed on Wednesday and was in the hospital for two weeks," he said.

Harris had a staph infection in his blood, and it was a scary situation.

"When I got to the hospital, my blood sugar was 1,263," he said. "I was septic. My kidneys were failing, my liver was failing."

With the help of great medical care and lots of support from current and former players, Harris recovered.

"All those years he poured into me. And now that I have become the man I am because of people like him ... you gave me so much, to say, 'Hey, you can beat this.' And so that's kind of what we did -- rally around him. He would've done the same thing for us 1 million times," Beam said.

"With that health scare, it tore us down. But he came back, and now he stronger than ever," Snelson said.

"Kids can do a lot for you. More so than you can do for them. And that's another thing I look at now," Harris said.

With his second chance, Harris is looking through the lens with a new perspective.

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