By Thomas Sellers Jr.
For 2013, The Genuine Article is going to shine the light on 13 male athletes to watch out for this upcoming TSSAA sports year. The Star’s four main schools feature some top notch performers in all sports. And it was hard to narrow it down to just 13.
Millington Central High School has been blessed with a well full of talent for decades. And this year is no different with several great athletes in many sports. Expect for the Home of the Trojans to be showcased from the track to the mat this year. Among the athletes that will have success in wrestling this year is Luke Walker. The senior has been to two Regionals and reached State last year. Gaining muscle in the offseason, Walker will move up to 195 this year and if he stays healthy, he will be one of the top grapplers in the state in 2014.
Maybe the best athlete in the Class of 2014 at Millington is LaKeron Garcia. The combination of speed and strength, Garcia also has the confidence to go along with his skill set. Another component that makes Garcia a dangerous weapon is his experience. He was the quarterback for the Trojans as a sophomore helping Millington win the District 14-3A title. His junior year the Trojans went to a speed offense in which Garcia became the go-to receiver for quarterbacks Allen Moore, Nick Hunt and Eldon Tyms. Now Garcia will use his experience to help groom sophomore Tyms as the signal caller.
Then when the basketball season comes around, Garcia will be running the show at point. It is understandable as to why no one can wait for basketball season this year. There are always those standout players and teams that people can’t stop talking about. This is going to be a season not to miss. Like many basketball fans who are already in possession of an unflled out ncaa tourney bracket, making predictions on who they think will win each game will be exciting.
Garcia will be looking for sharpshooter Jordan Browning. It seems like Browning has been playing for the Trojans since the last time Tiger Woods won a major (2008). But Browning is only entering his fourth and final season. Since he walked on the campus, Browning has logged several varsity minutes and has been a big-time contributor. He has added to his outside shooting by attacking the rim and improving his ball handling. Browning has also improved as a defender over the years and displayed a maturity on and off the court that will be needed to guide Trojan Basketball after the depature of 10 seniors.
Tipton-Rosemark Academy Baseball has been a force in recent years. And it starts at the top with Head Coach Brad Smith. And Smith will tell you it starts at the top of his lineup. Keeping that strong tradition alive will be senior Blain Curtis. Steady in limit action his first couple of years, Curtis had his coming out party last season with a .389 batting average while collecting 37 hits. He scored 45 runs and stole 20 bases. Curtis knows his job is to reach base drawing 32 walks last season.
To keep in shape before the baseball season, Curtis will be one of the guards on the Rebel Basketball team. Curtis has shown good perimeter skills featured next to teammates like like Nick Biggs. Curtis will also go into the paint and battle with the big bruisers.
There is a supreme athlete walking the TRA campus in Connor Alexander. He might not have the swagger of big brother Cale, but Connor is just as competitive in basketball and baseball. Alexander emerged as the outside scoring threat his teammate Matt “Moose” Moody needed to balance the offense. Alexander has a tall frame but he’s super face. He’s difficult to guard on the hardwood. But his main sport is baseball. Verbally committed to The University of Memphis, Alexander has the arm, bat and of course that speed that attracted Division I schools.
One of the busiest student/athletes this year will be Austin Chambers. His senior to-do list includes: play quarterback, grab some rebounds as a forward and be a leader on the tennis team. Chambers will get his senior year started this Friday with the Rebel Football squad and try to improve on his top 20 finish in total offense in the Shelby-Metro area. Chambers is a threat with his arm and legs on the gridiron. He takes that toughness to the hardwood and does the dirty work. Just in case Moody misses a shot, he’s there to collect garbage points or get the Rebels a second chance. Then Moody will conclude his senior campaign as one of the top tennis players for TRA. I hope he can squeeze in some rest between seasons.
There’s one player on this list that would be hard to miss. It’s Brighton’s 6-foot, 5-inch, 300-plus pound lineman Charles Mosley. With his size and skills, Mosley has also attracted attention from major football programs across the nation like Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame and Ohio State. And I’m just naming a few. Despite Nick Saban visiting the Brighton campus and other notable faces popping up at practices, Mosley has stayed humble and focused on the Brighton Cardinals’ success. He will be a big part of it (no pun intended) with his run stopping ability and lateral quickness on the line. It’s hard to run on the Cardinals.
And did I mention Mosley is also known to play some basketball in the winter for the Cardinals. He can get up and down that court. And who wants to battle him for a rebound?
Maybe the most important arm on the Brighton campus this year will be Colton Hathcock. In the fall he’ll be the Cardinals’ signal caller. Then in the spring he’ll be an ace for the Brighton Baseball team. Coaches Brian Oswalt and Zane Adams say Hathcock has a big-time arm that should take him to the college level. And the senior is ready to step up the role as ace and go-to hurler. He will gain mental maturity with a season under center. Hathcock can make the throws needed around the field and will keep the high-octane Cardinal offense rolling in 2013.
Cardinal Basketball was young in 2012-13. Although a tough season has its share of growing pains, usually that means the players have gain experience that will help them the next season. Among the youthful stars emerging in Brighton, Lorenzo Hunt had an undeniable gleam. He was named to the All-District Team for 13-3A. Hunt’s skills will mature into his basketball-ready frame. As the season progressed, I saw him wanting the ball late in games.
Each school seems to have that guy who will be the face of athletics in 2013-14. At Munford Andre Bell will be a force in football and basketball. All he did this summer was improve his talents in both sports. This intelligent athlete absorbed the knowledge of winning a district tournament in basketball last season. And he’s been a sponge in learning the new offense and defense of Head Football Coach Ahmaad Galloway. Bell will be a big target on offense as a wide receiver/tight end. And he has the strength to be a relentless linebacker. Then that size and strength will be key attributes on the hardwood keeping the cougars in the hunt for another championship.
Caine Robinson will give Bell a run for his money for best athlete on the campus. And if it was a foot race, Robinson will win by leaps and bounds. Robinson is a Sectional qualifing sprinter and finished in the top five in the State in the Triple Jump. After Robinson wraps up football, expect him to be focusing on reaching Murfreesboro in multiple events again. And he plans to take some teammates with him to the State Track Meet. And Robinson will be on the medal stand many times in 2014.
The latest trend in football roster sheets is “OW” or “A.” Those letters mean Offensive Weapon or Athlete. TJ Plymouth fits that category for the 2013 Munford Cougars. He could line up at either receiver or quarterback. He has an arm to make throws and good hands to receive the ball. And did I mention he can flat out run. This humble player will keep his team focused and be a leader no matter where he is on the field in 2013.
Matt “Moose” Moody has already been referenced twice in this piece. So he must be an area attraction for the 2013-14 season. With a frame ideal for playing linebacker, Moody uses his body and sick vertical leap to dominate in hoops. Moody’s post game makes opponents ill because he can score with two, three, even four players surrounding him. Moody has hops like his big brother JT and will slam on those would-be defenders. But Moody works within the offense and tries to open up things for his perimeter guys. I would describe Moody as a mixture of old school basketball with a flash.