By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Class of 2013 at Millington Central High School is loaded with athletic talent, especially with the boys.
Names like Antonio Webber, Johnathan Patterson, Jovan “BoBo” Ballard, El Paso Johnson and Tevin Oliver are just a few of the two-sport athletes at the school making headlines in football and basketball.
When the news came down Oct. 27 that the Football Trojans made the 2012 Class 6A Football Playoffs, that meant a delay on their arrival to Rob Sabau’s Basketball Trojans.
The third-year Millington coach said he is happy to see the football players achieve that goal and the basketball team will be fine until they arrive.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors,” Sabau noted. “I feel like this year is what we’ve been building for. Not only do we have some good seniors. We have a handful of juniors who could contribute this year. Jordan Browning has been, and Rodarious Johnson has improved tremendously. Then LaKeron Garcia and a couple of others will come in and get some experience.”
Garcia is also a part of the football team as a wide receiver. When he arrives to the court from the gridiron he will see time in the backcourt.
He will share with senior Jerrick Newsome. Also a two-sport standout playing baseball, Newsome is entering his fourth season of varsity basketball.
Until the arrival of his peers, Newsome and fellow seniors Kendrick Carter and Kelby Hollowell will be the leaders on the court and off it.
“It’s by far the deepest bench we’ve had,” Sabau noted. “We’re going to carry 15 on varsity. And really all 15 could be in the mix of not starting, getting quality minutes.
“We still have a number of seniors although we’ll be missing a bunch,” he added. “Then Rodarious Johnson, Jordan Browning and Willie Mudbone, we’ll still have a number of our guys. What we don’t have right now is any of our size.”
Sabau said he will take advantage of the football players absence working with the younger players and giving them time against a beefed-up schedule.
Millington will travel across Tennessee taking on teams like District 13-3A champions Dyer County featuring Robert Hubbs, the Briarcrest Saints led by top prospect Austin Nichols and Class 3A State finalist Memphis Central.
“The schedule is to see how we are and also lets make it a little tougher if we want to make a run at that district title,” he said. “Lets make us a little more battle hardened by the time we start district.”
Sabau said District 14-3A is always tough producing the 2011 State champions in the Craigmont Chiefs.
“Our district is brutal which everybody around Memphis could say,” he said. “You’ve got Craigmont who is always good. Arlington could be one of the better teams in the area this year. Bartlett is going to be rebuilding a little bit, but they’ve still got talent other there. Bolton is an up and coming team like we are.
“And you can never leave Cordova out,” Sabau added. “They surprised people last year including us. Coach Scales does a great job out there.”
Sabau said with such a large senior class, his Trojans have to take that next step this year. With no tomorrow, Sabau said he designed a challenging schedule to keep his team focused all season, every game.
“A lot of time last year, as they were improving and started to see they could beat some of the top teams around here, they started looking forward to them,” he recalled. “They started jumping ahead. We would put ourselves in a bad position against teams that we should have been able to take care of business against.
“This schedule it’s either against a rival or somebody up and coming like us,” Sabau concluded. “The schedule is packed full of good, quality teams. Central played in the State championship game last year. Briarcrest got a kid who every Division I school in the country wants. It just goes on from there.”