By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MEMPHIS — The 14th edition of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School All-Star Game presented by Conway/Services/ARS started off with the Red All-Stars lighting up the scoreboard jumping out 16-0.
But the Blue All-Stars settled down on defense for the last three quarters making the contest on the MUS Stadium field a thriller.
Behind a late interception by eventual MVP Donte Vaughn of Whitehaven, the Red Team held on to win the game 18-14.
“It feels amazing,” Vaughn said of the win and the honor. “I did this for my squad — the Red Squad. We’ve all played each other during the season. This week we came together.”
The Red Team’s togetherness was on display taking a 13-0 lead in the first quarter. On the squad’s second play on offense, quarterback Burk Williams (White Station) connected with Kerrick Jones (Whitehaven) for an 81-yard touchdown catch with 11:45 left in the first quarter.
The Red’s next touchdown was set up by an interception by Nickell Herron of Southwind. A few plays later Northpoint’s Christian Saluberry was in the end zone from 3 yards out to make the score 13-0.
Another Blue Team turnover was transformed into Red Team points in the second quarter. Herb McGowan (Kirby) made an pick setting up the Red All-Stars on the 26-yard line.
Moments later, Doni Thomas of Lausanne hit a 38-yard field goal to make the score 16-0 with 10:31 remaining in the first half.
The Blue Team finally got on the scoreboard with less than 2 minutes left in the quarter when James Smith (Manassas) found wide out Everett Mitchell (Arlington) for a touchdown pass. The score was 16-7 at the break.
The Blue Team cut into the deficit more in the third quarter when Eldon Tyms of Millington hit Bryan Lewis of Arlington for a 21-yard score. The Blue All-Stars were within two points.
Then the Red Team defense took over the game. The first big play from the Red Squad was Vaughn’s interception with 12:44 on the clock in the fourth quarter.
“This for everybody back home,” Vaughn said of his MVP plaque. “This feels good and it feels good to bring this plaque back to the school.”
The final score of the day came courtesy of the Red Team’s defense when Tim Hart of MUS recorded a safety with 7 minutes and 37 seconds remaining in the game.
Trailing 18-14, the Blue Team was driving when Red Team’s Tyree Bryant sacked Smith at the 40-yard line with 1 minute and 54 seconds left. The Red offense ran out the clock and won the trophy for their legendary Head Coach Glenn Rogers Jr.
Rogers’ team outlasted the Blue Team led by legendary Head Coach Tom Nix.
Nix was a head coach in Memphis for 32 years, 3 seasons at Whitehaven High School (1953-55) and 29 years at CBHS (1956-1984). Nix won three Shelby County Championships (1953, 54, 56); six City of Memphis Championships (1957, 58, 63, 64, 65, 69); one City of Memphis Co-Championship (1966); four (MIAA Championships (1967, 68, 69, 70) and one TSSAA State Championship in 1977. In all, Nix had a career record of 239-79-7.
Rogers was a trailblazer his entire career as a player and coach. He was the first black football player at Humes High School and the first black football player at the University of Memphis.
Rogers served as head football coach at South Side for thirteen seasons (1976-88) developing such stars as his son Glenn Rogers, Jr. and Jerry Knowlton (University of Memphis), Carlton Peoples and Mark Studaway (University of Tennessee) and Frank Porter (Ole Miss). Rogers was named to the Vanguard Coaches Hall of Fame and in 2000 he received the Billy J. Murphy Award from the University of Memphis M Club.
The Blue Team members are London McGhee (Manassas), Cedric Carter (Cordova), Lilotis Walker (Ridgeway), Marcus Moore (Douglass), James Smith (Manassas), Aaron Davis (CBHS), Everett Mitchell (Arlington), Eldon Tyms (Millington), Josh Malone (Ridgeway), Justin Swift (Trezevant), Cole Kelly (CBHS), Khaleb Johnson (Cordova), Christion Willett (Germantown), AJ Hightower (Tipton-Rosemark Academy), Flavyous Warren (Northside), LaMarcus Young (Bartlett), Bryan Lewis (Arlington), Hunter Hill (Briarcrest), Drew Croegaert (ECS), LiDarrion Seymour (Manassas), Zac Rhodes (Bolton), Eric Thomas (KIPP), Zach Camp (Brighton), Austin Lee (CBHS), Jalen Stewart (Overton), Ben Hill (CBHS), Chris Parrino (Collierville), Frank Clemons (Cordova), Clarence Thornton (Ridgeway), Terrance Brown (MLK Prep), Spencer Glass (St. George’s), Nicholas Wiseman (Ridgeway), Darron Johnson (Ridgeway), Cameron Freeman (Arlington), Jake MacFerran (Bartlett), Ryan Young (St. George’s), Billy White (Craigmont), Jacob Still (St. George’s), Marquez Robinson (Cordova), Paul Robinson (Millington), Jose Hernandez (Cordova) and Carter Oliver (Briarcrest).
The Red Team member are Tim Hart (MUS), Donte Vaughn (Whitehaven), Adam Boyce (Lausanne), Anthony Foster (Carver), Tyree Bryant (Northpoint Christian), Nickell Herron (Southwind), Jonathan Robinson (Hamilton), Chanse Pullen (Houston), Collin Tatko (Northpoint Christian), Rodney Salusberry Jr. (Whitehaven), Kerrick Jones (Whitehaven), Burk Williams (White Station), Eric Banks (East), Thomas Pickens (MUS), Colton Cochran (St. Benedict), Curtis Warr (Sheffield), Derek Garner (Wooddale), Brian Puckett (Central), Ramsey Hailey (White Station), Isaiah Thompson (Mitchell), Christian Saulsberry (Northpoint Christian), Jeremiah Evans (Fairley), Calvan Scott (Mitchell), Herb McGowan (Kirby), Khari Henley (FACS), LaDarius Burks (MAHS), Tyler Brewer (Southwind), Doni Thomas (Lausanne), RJ Myers (Houston), Amadou Fofana (Mitchell), Jason Harris (Carver), Wayne Eades (Central), Cameron Sesley (Hillcrest), Jesse Brookins (East), Jeremiah Newson (Southwind), Corey Ladley (Northpoint Christian), Terrance Johnson (BTW), Acari Mason (Southwind), David Nelson (MUS), Tommie Harper (Central), Jamecole Banks (Whitehaven), Michael Perry (Whitehaven) and Delvin Salter (Whitehaven).