By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Since the news hit the masses that the 2007 Millington Trojan Football team was going to be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame, many associated with the 13-1 team couldn’t wait to return to Mooney Bosewell Field.
Friday night finally was here for the 2007 Trojans and fellow Class of 2017 Millington Central High School Hall of Fame members Aisha Adams, Jimmy Cannon, Jasmine Newsome and Billy “Rope” Robinson.
Before the halftime induction ceremony, the honorees were expected to arrive to the Millington Football Stadium about 6:15 p.m.
Shortly before 6 p.m., Mario Justice appeared accompanied by his mother and grandmother. Sporting his old No. 5 jersey he set many receiving records, Justice’s smile glowed like the Trojan Gold sky above his head.
“It’s just a humbling experience to be able to come back and teach the young kids to never give up on your dreams and the harder you push, you can go far in life,” he said watching the 2017 Trojans warm up. “If you do fell, don’t be afraid to get up, dust yourself off and keep on moving forward.”
Justice, who many say was blessed with freakish athletic ability, was a three-sport standout at Millington graduating in 2008. That year he was awarded The Millington Star’s Male Athlete of the Year.
He was All-District in basketball and football and helped multiple relay teams reach State in track. Then Justice hit the real world following in older brother Jermaine Dailey’s footsteps of being a Trojan to play college athletics.
While Jermaine took basketball to the professional level, Justice travels through college didn’t result in reaching the pros.
Justice said when those setbacks hit, he relied on the lessons from the 2007 team.
“Sometimes in life, it will throw you a curve ball,” he said. “You might say I don’t need anybody. I can be independent. The ’07 team taught in life you’re going to always need somebody’s help in order to get to the next level. And to embrace the people around you who will help you is a humbling experience.”
Soon Justice started to see familiar faces from the past as teammates arrived by the pairs. Soon dozens of members of the 2007 team were greeting, hugging and reminiscing.
“It feels good man,” 2007 quarterback Randon Fryerson said. “I feel the love. It’s bringing back great memories. I’m proud of everybody and what we did. I just don’t know what to say right now. I’m just speechless. I’m honored. To walk out on this field again, it’s bringing back all these memories. Seeing all my brothers I just love it.”
Fryerson once again led his team onto the turf of Mooney Bosewell Field as the last inductees of the Class of 2017 Hall of Fame.
For many of the players and coaches it was the first time back on the field since the 29-28 defeat to Independence.
“Having not been on this field in 10 years, it’s a different atmosphere but it’s still love,” 2007 defensive captain Derenik Culbreath said. “It’s like we haven’t missed a beat. We still are bragging on each other. So it’s great.”
Culbreath said the induction/reunion was a blessing giving him a moment to escape before visiting his father recovering from minor heart surgery. Culbreath said the painful night after the Independence game has transformed into a life-lesson he pulls from often.
“We always think about the Independence game — what we could have done better,” he acknowledged. “How we could have played better as players. Our coaches, how they could have coached better. But its just validation that it still built character. That loss, we never felt that our senior year until that game.
“It was something we needed to feel in order for some of us to grow up as the men we are today,” Culbreath added. “You see a lot of us here in good health, taking care of families. We got our kids out here. It’s a good thing to see. Although we didn’t make it all the way we wished, we know that loss made us more of a man than the 13 games we did win. It’s a good thing and I’m glad to see these guys grew up.”
As the members of 2007 continue to tackle life, Fryerson noted all current and future classes of MCHS will know about their team.
“It’s really great to know that we’ll be remembered forever for what we did,” he said. “We worked hard for what we did. We worked hard from middle school into high school. It’s an honor to know all our hard work will be remembered forever.
“We were all brothers,” Fryerson continued. “We all started from seventh grade all the way up to the 12th. Nobody tried to fight over leadership roles. We all knew what we had to do in the Class of 2008. We were all leaders. We knew what we had to do. If anyone messed up, we all held each other accountable. It was no power struggle. We all went with the flow. We all had respect for each other and know how each other played.”
The 2007 team’s respect spread across the Hall of Fame board. Justice said to be inducted with such an outstanding class made the night more special.
“I don’t know a lot about some of the other Hall of Famers,” he acknowledged. “Congratulations to them. But I can say about Jasmine Newsome, she definitely put up buckets. She definitely did her thing. But to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is definitely an honor. I did win Best Male Athlete of the Year. But this definitely tops that hands down.”
Class of 2017 Hall of Fame
Billy “Rope” Robinson
Billy “Rope” Robinson was an outstanding tackle and fearless defender that played for the Trojan Football team from 1948-52. He was co-captain of the 1951 squad and was selected to the very first All-Shelby County Football team his junior and senior seasons.
Jimmy Cannon was a three-sport standout for the Trojans from 1963-67, but he received the most attention for his exploits on the football field. Cannon was captain of the football team and selected twice to the All-Shelby County Football team. He was also selected to the All-State team in 1966 and to the All-American team that year as well.
Aisha Adams is quite possibly the most outstanding all-around athlete ever at Millington Central High School. She played volleyball, basketball and ran track. She continued to shine on the brightest stage at the State Tournament and still holds six school records. In 2003 as a sophomore Adams finished sixth in the pentathlon. In 2004 as a junior, she was second in the event, second as member of the 4x200m relay team and third as a member of the 4x400m relay team and took fifth in the long jump. In 2005 her senior year, she finished second once again in the pentathlon, also taking silver in the long jump and 300m hurdles. Adams went on to Angelo State University where she was a two-time National Women’s Field Athlete of the Year, two-time National Heptathlon champion and 11-time All-American.
Jasmine Newsome is the all-time leading basketball scorer in school history with more than 2,000 points and was part of a special group of young ladies that advanced to the State championship game in 2008. Jasmine was selected All-District, All-Region and All-State throughout her career and was named as a Miss Basketball Finalist in 2010. Newsome went on to play collegiately at UT-Martin where she set numerous school records and became the first player in school history to be named AP All-American following her junior year. Newsome was recognized by the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame as their Amateur Athlete of the Year in 2014.
2007 Trojan Football Team
One of the most dominant teams in school history, the 2007 Trojan Football team finished 13-1 and reached the State Semifinals. The team featured great offense with two players rushing for more than 1,000 yards (Travis Simpson and Eric Knowlton) and averaged 35 points per game. The defensive side of the ball stood out as well with six shutouts and they did not allow a point to be scored until the third quarter of the fourth game of the season. This team had five All-Shelby Metro selections in addition to offensive and defensive player of the year finalists. As well as Coach of the Year Hank Hawkins was awarded.