By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The 2017 season has special meaning to every senior suiting up for football across the nation.
While each 12th grader has his reasoning, in Millington, Tenn., Trojan running back Justin Coleman stops at least once during every practice to reflect on his journey to his senior season.
“This had been a long time coming,” he said. “Getting to my senior year feels wonderful. I’ve been battling through a lot of adversity. Been through a lot of things. I’m just glad to be here.
“I’ve battled a lot of things like I went through a house fire,” Coleman continued. “That was my 10th grade year during the football season. I had to battle through that. That taught me that I had to grind and work hard on the field. Anything can be taken away from you. You can’t take things for granted. I just try to stay lifted. This became my place of refuge.”
Coleman saw time from Millington Trojans Head Coach Chris Michael as a freshman helping the Trojans give the 5A powerhouse Henry County Patriots a tough game in Round Two of the 2014 playoffs.
Then when the Trojans made the transition to 4A football taking on the like of Hardin County, Jackson North Side, Ridgeway and defending State champions the East Mustangs, Coleman was going to be one of the crucial parts of the offense.
While having moments of brilliance, Coleman has also seen his moments on the sideline. His 2016 ended after one play against the Covington Chargers.
“I was at a lost place around that time,” he recalled. “I felt like I was doing everything right and then that hit. I was kind of down and lost. I had to fight through it and stick to it. I had to find something deep within to keep fighting.
“It was a lot of people that didn’t know if I was going to be playing,” Coleman added. “Rehab was hard. So I used all those doubts as motivation. I kept grinding and fought through the pain. I knew there would be glory on the other side.”
The rehab of Coleman’s ACL and MCL in his right knee tested his will and desire to just have his senior season in the Black and Gold.
“It’s unbelievable to be here today,” he said, “ never thought I would make it as far as starting and leading the team. I want to lead them to the promiseland as far as helping them get through issues and battling life.
“Life issues are real,” Coleman added. “I take it as a privilege. I want to take advantage of every down, every time I come into that locker room. I want to take advantage of being a role model and inspiring them in there life.”
Coleman said past great Millington running backs like Roland Genesy and Antonio Webber have been able to galvanize the Trojans to success by building unity.
“I want to led as far as family base,” he said. “Knowing my battling off the field, I want to create a family structure on the field especially this year. Because we never really had that the past couple of year. I’ve been trying to build up the team as far as a family. I know team work makes the dream work.”
So while every senior still has dreams of a State championship across the United States, Coleman said he has learned what true victories are.
“The glory is seeing everybody participate and try to win the season,” he concluded. “The next step is getting pass the first round. We haven’t done that in a minute. Then go further and further. We’ll keep pushing and fight through the adversity. We’ll have to fight because we’re small. But we have to keep fighting and fighting for each other.”