By Thomas Sellers Jr.
A common phase bestowed upon football players is, “He left it all out there on the field.”
Friday night I saw and felt in my arms that quote come to life in Millington Trojan Antonio Webber. The senior running back rushed for more than 100 yards and scored two touchdowns on sore legs and battling other ailments.
Webber gave his team a chance to win the Second Round playoff game at Germantown. But the night belonged to the Red Devils edging the Trojans in a overtime classic 24-23.
That meant Germantown lived to play another game. Meanwhile that marked the end of a season for the Trojans that the writers of “Friday Night Lights” would dare compose.
In a year that saw the joy of six victories, some might remember the M&M Bowl streak coming to an end, and losing thrillers to the likes of Brighton and Craigmont.
Without a doubt the moment that shaped the 2012 season came on Aug. 21 when Dana Payne dead from injuries suffered in practice.
The lost of their teammate bonded the Trojans into an even stronger Brotherhood. And Webber was the foundation of that strength. If the Millington coaches were the mind of the team and the senior class the soul, Webber was clearly the heart of the team.
“Antonio has been a warrior the last three or four weeks,” Head Coach Chris Michael said. “He’s been injured and banged up.
“He just comes out Fridays and gives us what he’s got,” he added. “He just plays hard on every play. He was just a beast this year. Everybody who played him this year respected him to the highest level.”
Webber entered the season adjusting to a new offense. A scheme that was going to give him less carries. But Webber was all for the new Spread attack saying it would give players like Lakeron Garcia, Myron Threlkeld, George Odum and Tevin Oliver a chance to shine.
Webber wasn’t worried about his legacy as a Millington running back. The Wing-T made names like Miguel Barnes, Tausean Holmes and Roland Genesy college football players and Trojan legends.
Knowing he would have to share the ball more than an running back in recent history, Webber was all for it if it was going to help the Trojans win and make his teammates better.
Despite quarterbacks Allen Moore, Nick Hunt and Eldon Tyms sharing the rock all over the field, Webber still was the go-to guy. Just like Friday night some of his legendary performances came in losing efforts.
Webber’s Day-Two run at the M&M Bowl for 94 yards was a thing of beauty. People thought because of the muscle he added over the summer he would lose a step. But ask the Cougars if Webber is slow.
The Cardinals can tell you how the backside of the Millington No. 28 jersey looks.
In Millington’s playoff win earlier this month, Webber took his spot in the backfield beside Tyms. The veteran pointed out something he saw in the Cardinal defensive scheme pre-snap.
Tyms adjusted the call and Webber took the handoff 51 yards almost untouched for a touchdown. Three years of playing varsity football and Webber started to show all types of leadership on and off the field.
Knowing he would be the main man to stop by opponents, Webber welcomed those challenges while keeping his team’s spirits up.
“They did everything the could Friday night to try to stop him because they knew he was the focal point,” Michael said. “He accepted the challenged. He worked hard in the off-season and gave all he got. He gave 150 percent every Friday night. I’m just proud of him as a young man for being so mature and growing up so much form when he was a freshman here at Millington Central High School. ”
Webber led by example in the locker room, in practice and on Friday night. His last Trojan leadership opportunity took everything out of him.
His final carry in the black and gold was a 1-yard touchdown. But the extra point was blocked and it was time for the Trojans to call an end to 2012 and close the book on the Trojan Tales.
As the team gathered to hear for the coaches one last time as a team on the field, Webber was on his elbows and knees gathering strength and trying to hold in his emotions.
Like the warrior he displayed all season, he kept his emotions in check. Before he could receive well-wishes from fans, family and coaches, I made my way over to Webber to say thanks.
As I hug him I felt a body almost lifeless. The heart of Millington was exhausted, still beating, but simply tired.
Webber needed those hugs and well wishes to help him get off the field. When a heart is broken and weak, it needs uplifting from a spiritual place and the rest of the body to step up.
As people told Webber he was one of the best all-around to come through Millington, he could mustered the strength to leave the Germantown Football Stadium field.
Those people were right. Webber made a name for himself in Metro Football. And he surpassed the expectations.
He will be the next Millington running back to play on the college level. But he secured his place as a black and gold legend keeping this team together after facing changes, loses and even death.
The No. 28 will also be Antonio Webber. And the number know means leaving it all out on the field. Webber just like his predecessors leaves some big shoes to fill at running back.