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Trojan seniors reflect on lost classmate and importance of Aug. 21, 2012

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Dana Payne Tribute logo

Angelo Pirtle and Patrick Macon

Angelo Pirtle and Patrick Macon

The eve of the 2014 football season is special to all area prep players and coaches.
But the date this year fell on the anniversary of the Millington Trojan Football family losing Dana Payne. On Aug. 21, 2012, Payne entered practice to perform a drill as a wide receiver. The play was called for the excited 15-year-old.
The sophomore went up to make the catch and took a solid hit. That play sent into motion life-changing events for all of Payne’s family, friends, teammates, coaches and the Millington Central High School family.
Payne passed away that day doing what he loved most, playing football.
“Basically thinking about him, I know he would have been out here because he loved everything about football,” Payne’s classmate and teammate Patrick Macon said. “I can still remember the last thing I said to him before it happen. We still go out and do our things out there on and off the field for No. 87.”
Since the tragedy, Payne’s No. 87 was retired by the school never to be worn again at Millington. Despite missing their teammate, the Trojans have rallied the past two season to reach the playoffs in large part to the Class of 2015.
Some of the standouts under Head Coach Chris Michael have been Macon, Angelo Pirtle, Josh Taylor, Vic Carasco and Demarius Curry.
“I think we were extra motivated,” Pirtle said. “It all happened before that season started. So it was like you had an extra fire in your heart. It showed when we played. And I think its still a factor when we play.”
Pirtle’s play started to gain him recognition from college coaches. He’s been a standout lineman on both sides of the ball.
Then in last season’s Kingsbury game, Pirtle suffered a broken arm ending his season.
“I learned again not to take anything for granted,” he said. “It has made me work hard to get back for my team and my senior year.”
All the Class of 2015 knows the importance of not taking things for granted on the gridiron. Pirtle and Macon are leaders on and off the field for the Trojans preparing for a schedule that features Germantown, Brighton, Liberty, Montgomery Bell and Munford in none District 14-3A play.
Last season the Trojans picked up victories over area rivals Brighton and Munford. As part of all the Millington victories the past two seasons, the No. 87 has been across each player’s chest.
“When we win it makes me proud to have on my 87,” Pirtle said. “ I know that he’s watching us and he’s happy.”
Macon said he plays hard to make Payne proud. His standout play as a linebacker has attracted attention from the next level. With the size, speed and skills, Macon is expected to be a force and leading tackler for the Trojans this season.
Macon said he wants to continue his playing career at the next level to carry on for his fallen teammate.
“He’s very close to me,” Macon said. “Every time we break down the huddle and say, ‘87,’ its like I am giving him a big hug.
“I want to put his number up there next to Mario Reed on the scoreboard,” he concluded. “I also want to put his number on the sides of the field in a Trojan helmet. I want it always be there for every game.”

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