By Thomas Sellers Jr.
GERMANTOWN — The phrase “better late than never,” has taken on a whole new meaning for Millington Trojans Head Football Coach Chris Michael.
The 2014 season-opening game at Germantown as been on the schedule for months. But hours away from kickoff Friday night, the Trojans were running a little late getting to Red Devil Stadium.
Millington made it in time to beat the heat and Head Coach Charlie White’s Red Devils 28-0.
“Their effort was great,” Michael said of his team. “They played hard from start to finish. We were late getting over here. We scrambled through warmups. We had a little huddle down here in the end zone beforehand.
“It seems to work for us,” he continued. “We were late on the buses before going over to scrimmage White Station the other day. We had a great scrimmage in that. Maybe I’ll tell the buses to be late all the time.”
With all jokes aside, Michael’s Trojans were focused on the bus ride over to Germantown. In the rivalry’s recent history the Red Devils have enjoyed success. Germantown won the last playoff meeting in 2012 and took the 2013 season opener in Millington.
“It feels good (to win),” Trojan Artavious Thomas said. “Honestly, I’ve been holding a grudge on my shoulders ever since my freshman year to beat them.”
Tyms endured two tough games against the Red Devils in previous seasons. Wearing the jersey No. 32 as a freshman, Tyms was guided by seniors like Antonio Webber and George Odum in the playoff game at Germantown. The Trojans were edged out in overtime ending Tyms’ first varsity season. Last season as a sophomore, Germantown pressured Tyms most of the game.
“I never won against Germantown,” Tyms recalled. “This was my first time beating Germantown. That actually felt good.”
Tyms entered his third match up against Germantown as a confident junior signal caller. And he used his backfield mate Keno Taylor to drive toward Millington’s first touchdown of 2014.
The sophomore running back Taylor marched the Trojans down the field picking up three first downs. Those runs set up an 8-yard TD run by Tyms to make the score 7-0.
Millington went ahead 14-0 in the second quarter when Artavious Thomas field a punt in his own territory. After a drop, Thomas gathered the pigskin and avoided a couple of Germantown defenders to race up the sideline for the punt return touchdown.
“I play for Christ and I did it for Dana,” Thomas said. “I came out here to grind for him.”
Dana Payne, who passed away two years ago, would have been a senior player for the Trojans this year. As one of his classmates, Thomas said he always takes the memory of his teammate out on the field. In addition to being motivated by Payne, Thomas had a big play on his mind all day.
“I felt good,” he said of the TD, “and I’ve been promising everybody one of those today.”
The Trojans were ahead by two scores with 8:08 remaining in the first half. Millington was looking to add to their lead late in the second quarter but Red Devil Rodney Williams made a leaping interception to end a Trojan drive. Millington (1-0) went into the locker room ahead 14-0. The third quarter went scoreless and then the Trojans iced the game with Thomas making another big play. The senior safety picked off a Red Devil pass setting up Tyms’ second TD run of the game. This time the junior signal caller found the end zone from 20 yards out making the score 21-0. Later in the quarter, Trojan defensive back Marcus Winston made an interception of his own. Millington took over at the 22 yard line. On the next play, Tyms faked a handoff and dumped off a quick pass to receiver Kip Fleming. Fleming was even quicker darting through the Germantown defense to outrun the competition to the end zone for a 78-yard TD. With two touchdowns runs and a TD pass, Tyms said he has grown a lot from the player who walked onto the golden Red Devil field in November of 2012.
“I was kind of nervous because I came in as a freshman,” he recalled. “It was too fast for me. I had to come in as a leader and learn from Antonio Webber and George Odum and all of them to take on a role like that so fast. But I’ve managed to do it. I’m proud of myself to be here.”
Thomas said the Millington defense could leave Germantown with its head held high as well with a shutout.
“We’ve been practicing Red Zone defense all week,” he noted. “We came together and played.”
Michael said his team was a cohesive unit from the moment it stepped off the buses.
“They got off to a little bit of a good start,” he said of Germantown. “But the defense found there groove and started getting into their responsibilities. You have to be real disciplined when you’re playing against a Coach White offense because they force you to play your responsibility defense. We worked hard all week. We worked a lot on responsibility. Once the defense got into it’s groove they did a really good job of shutting down all that we’ve been working on.”