H.S. FOOTBALL | Male's senior QB paid his dues, now it's time to shine
09/28/2016 07:00 PM
Playing the waiting game is never fun.
“I hated it, but I mean, I had to accept it because there’s nothing I could do about it. I just had to keep working hard to get better at quarterback.”
Tony Thomas Jr., or T.J. as his teammates call him, didn’t become a starter at Louisville Male High School until his senior year- but glancing at his stats, you wouldn’t know it.
“He’s thrown 18 touchdowns to only two interceptions. He’s 70 percent completion. Those numbers are off the charts,” said Male’s head coach, Chris Wolfe. “If he was a three-year starter you would have said, ‘Oh okay, I see why’, but he’s a first-year starter and the numbers are remarkable. He continues to get better and the kids really respond to him. He was voted captain by his teammates and had the most votes of any other player on the team, so it’s been a remarkable year for him.”
T.J. just tries to focus on his team.
“It means a lot [being captain]. I love my team, I’ll do anything for them. So I like that role with my team, being a captain.”
He nearly ended up on the other side of the ball, rather than the guy under center.
“I went to T.J. as a junior when it looked like Hayden [Shelton] was going to be our quarterback, T.J. wasn’t quite ready, and I said do you want to start working at safety on defense? You know, I want to get you on the field and he was ‘yes sir’ and then as I took him over to start working defense he says, well I still want to work at quarterback and i said well if you still want to work at quarterback here, that’s all you do is play quarterback,” Wolfe recalled.
T.J. said being the back-up wasn’t fun, but it was a learning experience.
“It taught me a lot of discipline. Know the role, like what it takes to lead a team to a state championship- that’s what it taught me.”
Transitioning into the starter role, he had some pretty big shoes to fill.
“The last two 6-A Players of the Year have been our quarterback,” Wolfe explained.
“We won state last year, so I’m the Louisville Male quarterback this year so it’s a good feeling,” T.J. added.
The self-described dual-threat quarterback said he models his game after Russell Wilson- both are 5’10”. T.J. said he prefers to throw the ball (he said his longest ball is about 65 yards), but he can run, too. He added that he used to play some running back.
He made one promise to Male fans: “It’s a lot of pressure. I mean people want us to go to state, but we’re going to go to state so I don’t worry about it too much. I know I can take my team far and I can lead them to a state championship.”
Coach Wolfe added that T.J. is just as good a person off the field as he is on it. As for those state title hopes- the next step toward that comes against PRP Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.
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