By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In August 2003, a chubby, innocent face arrived on the scene in Millington. Fresh out of The University of Memphis armed with a journalism degree and an eagerness to learn more about Flag City, my publisher Walter Einhart II sent me, a newbie, out for his first field assignment, a Millington Trojan Football citywide pep rally.
As the new sports reporter, it was the perfect introduction to the city, school and community. Over the past 10 years I’ve learned Millington Central High School is the backbone of the city, Trojan athletics is the face and Trojan Football is the pulse and heartbeat.
Prior to that rally I traveled to Cordova for my first Trojan athletic event a soccer game between the Lady Wolves and Lady Trojans.
After the powerhouse Cordova Lady Wolves pulled away for a victory, I conducted my first coach and player interviews.
Millington Head Coach Bruce Rasmussen gave me a quick recap and then introduced me to his senior leader Cynthia Medina.
And Medina was the ideal first interview. She had charm, wit and spoke with the intelligence of a professional. Medina personified
Her final words to me were, “Welcome to Millington, I hope you enjoy it.”
Oh Ms. Cynthia it has been a pure pleasure and honor the past decade covering Trojan sports. From Cynthia and her siblings Mark and Sam to the Baltensberger children Mark, Matt, Anna, Amy and Sara, Millington athletics has become a huge part of my life and family.
The names are endless, the stories are plentiful, the moments priceless and the memories filled the pages of The Star the last 10 years.
From the signing of hoopster Amber Bacon in 2003 to Austin Peay to the most recent of baller Willie Mudbone to a new university in Florida, Trojans have steadily made news nationally. The success is evident from the hardwood to the diamond.
Countless Lady Trojans and Trojans have inked letters of intent, guided teams to titles and earned their share of individual honors. And with names like Tausean Holmes, Jasmine Newsome and LaTesa McLaughlin recently playing in bowl games, the NCAA Tournament or for national championships, the Trojan name shines like the gold in the school colors.
In an effort to list as many names as possible I’m going to take the cheap way out and do a mass list broken down by the sport.
I’ve enjoyed winter nights watching Millington basketball players like Larry “Air” Green, Eric Bryant, Ashley Robinson, Olivia Maddox, Stephen Kerr, “Big” Mike Young, Tiara Caldwell, Carl Allen, Treasure Redding, Jerick Newsome, Kelby Hollowell, DeCarlos Holmes, Carl Fields Jr., Deanna Jeffries, Michelle Malone, El Paso Johnson, Ely Lockhart, Mario Woods, Jerica Spencer, Sabrina Mathews and Jermaine Dailey.
Dailey was the big man on campus in the early 2000s, literally standing 6-foot, 6 inches.
But he used that frame along with his leaping ability to be a force for Head Coach Keith Wood. And Dailey also embodied Wood’s three principles of God, family and school before athletics.
Guided by his faith and driven by his mother Caroline, Dailey earned the grades at Millington and later Three Rivers Community College to obtain a scholarship to Southern Illinois. And Dailey even reached the professional basketball ranks.
His little brother Mario Justice was a standout on the hardwood as well. But his 2008 Millington Star Male Athlete of the Year also shined on the gridiron and track.
Justice along with names like Charles Mitchell, Chestina Anderson, Greg Askew, Gary Askew, Freddie Rankin, Dominique Tross, Charrii Brandon, Paige Davis, Michael Hosley, Tabitha Burau and Courtney Jordan blazed the MCHS track and left their marks in the field.
Especially Jordan with two trips to State in the discus. She went on to sign a scholarship to Austin Peay for track where she won the OVC title.
Jordan’s dedication on and off the track allowed her to achieve those high honors. Working along with then track coach Chris Michael, Jordan felt she had to make him proud, her teammates and family.
She reached that goal three times over with letters in track, basketball and volleyball.
Volleyball at Millington has had it’s special moments thanks to players like Elizabeth Woodard, Jaymie Chism, Dana Beckmann, Tierra Ford, Meagan Lamica, Kaitlin Jones, Sierra Williams, Sierra Ferguson, Michele Brown and Lauren Trouy.
Both Brown and Trouy reached the college level of volleyball. Brown, the first Lady Trojan to win Star Female Athlete of the Year, played volleyball and basketball at Paine College.
Quiet and meek on the court, once either ball was in the air, Brown was a fierce competitor.
Trouy’s spikes were fierce and lethal. She was the first player I’ve ever seen give an opponent a facial. Her kills would crush the faces of would-be blockers. Trouy eventually ended up at The University of Memphis.
Her big brother Matt played some college ball, on the diamond. The name Matt Trouy struck fear into the hearts of pitchers and base runners. I’ve witnessed the former CBU Buc gun out multiple Bartlett would-be stealers. Panthers’ Head Coach Phil Clark said that night on the USA Stadium field, “That catcher kept them in the game. That was the greatest display from behind the plate I’ve seen in years.”
Weeks later Trouy cranked a home run over the Brighton centerfield wall that read 390 that is still traveling today.
Trojan Baseball has enjoyed good times with names like Ethan Percer, Chris Miller, Ryan Hodges, Calvin Hodges, Donnie Mitchell, Sean Adams, Brett Adams, Kyle Lewis, Cary Crain, Joey Courtney, Chad Free, Austin Moody, Jonathan Moody, Ben Waits, Kerry White, John Wilson, Bronson Perry, Dustin Carver, David Croenne, Brett Croenne, Chris Edwards and Zane Adams.
Now a days Coach Z is teaching young arms at Brighton High School. But before settling up in Tipton County, Zane Adams was a stud pitcher for the Trojans. In falls he worked as a middle linebacker. Then in the springs he was mowing over batters with his fastball.
Adams hit the mark at West Alabama and in the heart of a Munford Lady Cougar Becca Starnes. I’ve always admired the success rate of young Zane.
Many Lady Trojans have enjoyed success on their version of the diamond. Head Coach Rick Hearn has overseen many great players like Kasey Bomar, April Lewis, Jana Mergel, Elizabeth Findley, Meagen Wingate, Tori Davis, Lauren Hearn, Brittney Davis, Ariel Trice, Abby Mabry, Courtney LeBlanc, Melissa McGovern, Heidi Molder, Courtney Conway, Casey Tarwater, Jenna Crain and “Big Red” Emily Hearn.
Hearn was one of the best hitters and power hitters in Lady Trojan history. She earned a scholarship to Delta State University, her parents’ alma mater. Hearn continued the family’s rich tradition of athletic and academic success at the home of the Statesmen.
A program that has seen its share of men at State is Millington Wrestling. From coach Martin Wieckowski to William Richardson, the Trojans have experienced mat success with Cason Stutes, Maximo Herrera, Jojo Lopez, Dustin Martin, Dustin Sperlock, Rodney Robinson, Luke Walker, Jamario Erving, Matt Baltensperger, Jonathan Taylor, and Devante Robinson.
Devante slammed onto the scene as a sophomore making a deep run at State. He wrestled underweight but held his own. And he returned to State the next two years and leaves the program in good hands with Walker.
The Millington Lady Trojan Basketball program has been in great hands over the years with Patrick Swanson, Stan Gatlin and now Bruce Marshall. Those coaches have guided standouts like Gloria Scott, Courtney Jordan, LaTesa McLaughlin, Tamarah Brandon, Ashley Robinson, Olivia Maddox, Erin Clark, Kendra Richardson and Jasmine Newsome.
Finishing as the school’s all-time leading scorer, Newsome was special from her first day on the MCHS campus. She fired a laser from half court to a teammate that didn’t appear open to the normal eye.
Reaching Sub-State all four years, Newsome’s shining moment came her sophomore year helping the Lady Trojans reach the State championship game. It was her coming out party and she got better over the next two years. Now Newsome is an All-American at UT-Martin.
She is carrying on the Lady Trojan Basketball banner like so many Millington Football stars have for decades. Over the past 10 years the tradition of gridiron glory has continued with Demetre “RockHead” Jones, Antonio Webber, Roland Genesy, George Odum, Miguel Barnes, Aaron West, Kevin Oliver, Alan Cross, Josh Bynum, Eric Knowlton, David Martin, Kardell Ambrose, Frankie Dakin, Jamal Collier, Brian Carmichael and Stanton Brown.
All these Trojan greats have signed college scholarship over the years or played college football. Brown, who is entering his senior season at Rhodes, is an example of where former Head Coach Hank Hawkins and current leader Chris Michael is taking the program.
Brown is an explosive talent on the field but is also taking care of business in the classroom. Since 2010, the Trojans have celebrated eight players heading to the next level including Cross, the 2011 Star Male Athlete of the Year. He is now a standout tight end at Memphis and even appearing on commercials for the Tigers.
Fellow Star Male Athlete of the Year Tausean Holmes has the destination of being the school’s only Mr. Football winner. He picked up the award in 2008 and later went on to play for Arkansas State.
Holmes came out of nowhere one night in 2007 at Central. With a kickoff return and explosive run, he announced his arrival. But the big stage still had to wait because of the tandem of Knowlton and Travis Simpson.
Arguably one of the best runners from Running Back High, Simpson was a beautiful combination of speed, strength and natural football gifts.
Simpson played both ways as a running back and linebacker on the 2007 team that finished with the best record in school history of 13-1.
Simpson along with quarterback Randon “Baby Bruh” Fryerson authored the most important play in Millington Football history. In a second round match up with the Whitehaven Tigers at Millington, Fryerson called for an option play. He stretched the field as far as he could with at least three defenders swallowing him up. At the last second, Fryerson tossed the ball to Simpson behind him. The streaking Simpson reached the end zone just ahead of the field for the game-winning touchdown.
Knowlton had plenty of those moments in 2007 but his most famous touchdown was at the 2006 M&M Bowl with Millington winning 28-20.
With a cutback move, Knowlton raced 71 yards to the end zone to keep the Trojan streak alive. Millington won 9 in row over their rivals Munford.
Trojans like Jerrod Love, Chase West, Jesse Ferrell, The Evans Boys (Corey, Derek and Blake), Michael Bailey, Corbit Franks, Tevin Oliver, Jonathan Patterson, Alan Waits, Korian Chambers, Darren “Bear” Maclin, Tristan Starks, Tyrell Garner, T. Taylor, Jerry Cormier, Clarence McAdory and LaKeron Garcia keep that streak going for almost a decade.
Millington has seen it’s share of great student/athletes and record breakers. The prime example of that is Katlyn Dupree. Scoring more than 100 goals in her stellar soccer career, Dupree managed to finish No. 7 in the Class of 2013.
She was one of many great soccer players like Kyle Eubanks, Tabitha Burau, Brennan Van Emelen, Tameka Henry, Katelyn Dagen and her brothers Ryan and Brett, the Medinas, the Baltenspergers, the Blankenships, the Netzels, the Reyes (Iris, Ivan, Anibal and the Guru Jose) and the great Ashley Benbow.
Benbow set the standard in which Dupree had to strive for. After Burau set the single-season goals record at 19, Benbow moved the mark to 27. Dupree eclipsed it with 31 this past season.
Like Benbow, Dupree played some hoops and spent some time on the softball diamond. Benbow was a force in all three sports signing with UT-Martin in softball. Benbow was the most skilled female athlete I’ve covered at Millington.
But Aisha “Ice” Adams was the most gifted athlete during my tenure at the Millington Star — period. Adams used natural ability and raw talent to win silver medals in track. She was a blur on the basketball court, out racing everyone for layups. And in volleyball, the leaping came in handy to spike down several points.
Wow, what a decade it has been. I know I didn’t mention all the names I should have from the athletes to the coaches. But you all know you’ve played a crucial part in Millington sports since 2003. And you’ve been an important part of my life.
Thank you for going down memory lane with me the past four weeks. And there is more to come throughout the year as I reflect on 10 years at The Millington Star.
Before closing I would like to thank two men who have departed my coverage area. Former Munford Head Girls Basketball Coach Mike Anderson. He gave me some friendly advice, “It’s about the kids. If you take care of them, this community will take care of you.”
And former MCHS Baseball Coach and Administrator Bo Griffin, “After a loss come and talk to me, I’m responsible. After a win, go give the kids their moment to shine. It’s all about the kids.” That philosophy has made my job a 10-year dream.
Top 10 Female Athletes
10. Emily Hearn
9. Jasmine Scudder
8. Katlyn Dupree/Tamarah Brandon
7. Heidi Molder
6. Sam Medina
5. Michele Brown
4. Courtney Jordan
3. Tabitha “Nikki” Burau
2. Ashley Benbow
1. Aisha “Ice” Adams
Top 10 Male Athletes
10. Chris Miller
9. Eric Knowlton
8. Alan Cross/Gary Askew
7. Kyle Lewis
6. Derenik Culbreath
5. Kevin Oliver
4. Mario Justice/George Odum
3. Demetre “RockHead” Jones
2. Zane Adams
1. Tausean Holmes
Top 10 One-Sport Standouts
10. Elizabeth Woodard
9. LaTesa McLaughlin/Austin Moody
8. Tiara Caldwell
7. Lauren Trouy
6. Matt Trouy
5. Jose Reyes
4. Amber Bacon
3. Abby Mabry
2. Travis Simpson
1. Jasmine Newsome
Top 10 Teams
10. 2007-08 Trojan Basketball (Regional Semifinals)
9. 2006-07 Lady Trojan Basketball (Sub-State)
8. 2008 Trojan Football (10-0 Regular Season)
7. 2008-09 Lady Trojan Basketball (Sub-State)
6. 2009-10 Lady Trojan Basketball (Sub-State)
5. 2006 Trojan Soccer (Sub-State)
4. 2011 Trojan Football (9-1 District Champs)
3. 2005 Lady Trojan Softball (District Champs, Sub-State)
2. 2007 Trojan Football (13-1, State Semifinals)
1. 2007-08 Lady Trojan Basketball (State Runner-up)
Top 10 Running Back High
10. Tristan Starks
9. Antonio Jones
8. Gary Askew
7. Aaron West
6. Miguel Barnes
5. Eric Knowlton
4. Antonio Webber
3. Roland Genesy
2. Tausean Holmes
1. Travis Simpson