By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MEMPHIS – From practices to at least five games a season, MUS senior place kicker Trey Thomas has lined up hundreds of attempts on the turf of Owl Stadium.
With 2 seconds remaining in the 16th Annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl All-Star Game Saturday night, Thomas has one more chance to kick a field goal on his home field.
Representing the Red All-Stars in a 28-28 tie, Thomas had to face a pair of Blue Team timeouts and a line of the tallest players Blue Head Coach David Carter (St. George’s) could throw at him.
But like the other side of a pillow, Thomas kept his cool and drilled the game-winning 27-yard field goal giving the Red All-Stars a 31-28 win.
Thomas said Carter’s icing attempts didn’t shake him approaching his last kick as an Owl in the nearly freezing temperatures.
“I was too cold to care,” he declared. “It feels pretty awesome. I’ve heard that it’s been a long time since the Red has won this game. To bring back trophy here feels pretty good.”
The road to Thomas’ heroic moment was paved with high and low points for the Red Team.
The Blue All-Stars jumped ahead 7-0 early in the first quarter behind the running of Tyler Badie (Briarcrest). Badie capped off the 2:10 drive with a 4-yard TD run.
Red answered back with 5 minutes and 57 seconds remaining in the opening period when Chris Witherspoon (Whitehaven) concluded a Red All-Star march with a 1-yard touchdown.
The score remained tied for about 2 minutes when Blue regained the lead courtesy of a Brian Payne (St. George’s) 2-yard TD to make the score 14-7.
The Red Team deadlock the game at 14-14 before halftime when Jalen Alexander (Southwind) caught a 6-yard pass in the end zone.
The Red All-Stars finally took the lead early in the third quarter with a big play. Red quarterback Jack Grissom (FACS) dropped back and hit a streaking Paul Todd (Hillcrest) for a 79-yard touchdown making the score 21-14.
As the Red Team defense tried to snatch the momentum and dominate the game, the Red offense started to experience snapping issue late in the third quarter.
Those problem finally cost the Red Team with 2 minutes and 11 seconds left in the period when Blue All-Star Niko Cooper (Douglass) scoped up a fumbled snap and returned it to the house for an 18-yard TD.
The score was 21-20 in favor of the Red Team. Before the Blue Team could fully rejoice, Red All-Star Lance West (Brighton) made a big return on the kickoff to the Blue 30-yard line.
A few seconds later, the Grissom to Todd connection struck again. Todd earned this year’s MVP award hauling in his second TD of the night, this time from 30 yards out.
The Red Team was ahead 28-20 heading into the fourth quarter.
Both squads made big defensive plays throughout the final period with an interception from Red All-Star Larry Turner (Raleigh-Egypt).
Later his teammate Cameron John (Brighton) had a sack to stall a Blue drive.
So it would be the Blue Team defense to tie the game at 28-28 when Nyle Love (Lausanne) picked off a pass and returned it for an 18-yard touchdown.
Blue quarterback Matt Conners (Collierville) located teammate Garrett Sapp (White Station) for the two-point conversion to deadlock the contest.
With 2 minutes and 26 seconds left on the clock, the stage was being setup for Thomas. Class 3A Mr. Football Kylan Grandberry (Raleigh-Egypt) did his part of rushing the ball down the field. Then a big catch by Marvin Farmer (Westwood) got the ball deep in Blue territory.
Then after a pair of Blue timeouts, Thomas hit a no-doubt 27-yard field goal to win the game.
“Good way to end it,” Thomas said. “We didn’t get the results we wanted after the regular season losing to Brentwood pretty badly at their place. So it feels pretty good being a senior to come back and end it on the field with that a last second field goal victory. It’s a good memory.”
Brighton’s John said the victory is a good way to conclude his prep football career as well sharing the field with classmate West and Aaron Alston.
“It’s good to end things with a win,” he said. “I’m going to miss high school football, but it’s time to go on to the next level. It was a good game.
“I got a sack today and represented Brighton like that,” John concluded. “I played hard for Brighton. To have my teammates here, they’re both good players. I grew up with them. So it was great having them here. It’s a little bittersweet.”
The 2017 Red Team All-Stars are Jalen Alexander (Southwind), Aaron Alston (Brighton), William Bradley (East), Nickolas Burks (Fairley), Elijah Burnett (Hamilton), Joe Carter (MUS), Rashad Clayton (Central), Sumner Darlington (ECS), Buchanan Dunavant (MUS), Aram Dunbar (Raleigh-Egypt), Marvin Farmer (Westwood), Kalyn Grandberry (Raleigh-Egypt), Jack Grissom (FACS), Christian Harris (Sheffield), Anthony Hearn (Overton), Cameron John (Brighton) Ndayambaje John (Kingsbury), Caleb Johnson (MAHS), Tenarius Johnson (Wooddale), Ty Kimberlin (Harding), Will Lawrence (Harding), Daiyveonta Linwood (Wooddale), Jackson Little (Houston), Orlando Manning (MASE), Eric McGlown (SBA), Isaiah Mills (Wooddale), Quarterrion Moore (Melrose), Takolah Moore (Southwind), Shane Ptaceck (Houston), Draper Redmond (Whitehaven), Kenneth Richmond (Middle College), Devon Robinson (Whitehaven), Christian Robinson (Central), Anterious Ryan (Rossville Christian), Elijah Smalls (Fairley), Nathan Thomas (Raleigh-Egypt), Trey Thomas (MUS), Paul Todd (Hillcrest), Larry Turner (Raleigh-Egypt), JJ Vaden (Bartlett), Bobby Wade (MUS), Lance West (Brighton), Ion Williams (Westwood), Rayshad Williams (Whitehaven), Cortarius Wilson (Southwind), Chris Witherspoon (Whitehaven) and John Wrister (East); Red Team coaching staff are Head Coach Jerome Griffin (Wooddale) and assistant coaches Will Hudgens (Houston), Dewayne Harris (Westwood), Johnny Allen (Harding), Gene Robinson (Fairley) and Jonas Rodriguez (ECS).
The 2017 Blue Team All-Stars are Ben Austin (Briarcrest), Tyler Badie (Briarcrest), Marcus Bersoza (Collierville), Asa Bonner (Cordova), Quentin Booker (Covington), Micah Breckenridge (White Station), Bryce Bush (CBHS), Nic Cantu (CBHS), Matt Connors (Collierville), Niko Cooper (Douglass), Leandre Cooper (Millington), Josh Crawford (Lausanne), Winston Delane (BTW), Bradley Ellis (Briarcrest), Devin Fisher (Bolton), Tommy Fonda (Kirby), Jaylon Guy (KIPP), Spencer Hayden (Fayette Academy), Chaz Hayes (Munford), Patrick Healy (CBHS), Parron Hooker (Mitchell), Michael Jackson (MLK Prep), Chris Jones (Freedom Prep), Caleb Jones (Ridgeway), Eli Jordan (Arlington), Tate Kolwyck (Arlington), Nyle Love (Lausanne), Ted Lyons (Germantown), Rodney Matthews (Craigmont), Joc Nebk (Douglass), Caleb Nelson (Arlington), Brian Payne (St. George’s), Sheridan Pratcher (Oakhaven), Parker Pulliam (Lausanne), Traven Pulliam (Trezevant), Garrett Sapp (White Station), Connor Shamblin (Briarcrest), Quantarius Tate (Manassas), Nathan Tatko (Northpoint), Kundarrious Taylor (Ridgeway), Cornell Trotter (Manassas), Carter Weakley (Tipton-Rosemark Academy), London White (Ridgeway), Greg Williams (White Station) and Ryan Winkel (CBHS); Blue Team coaching staff are Head Coach David Carter (St. George’s) and assistant coaches Carl Coleman (Manassas), Adam Sykes (Arlington), Brian Stewart (Briarcrest), Preston Harris (Douglass) and Chris Smith (Germantown).