By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Class of 2020 will definitely go down in history.
The coronavirus cut the school year short across the country. As you read this, some students are still undergoing graduations under special and unique circumstances. This is the first time since I started the Who’s Who of The Millington Star, I wavered about composing the two-week series.
Normally I recognize 24 seniors in 12 categories pulling from Millington Central High, Munford, Brighton high schools and Tipton-Rosemark Academy.
I have to admit this year’s selection of Who’s Who was tougher because I haven’t seen my student/athletes compete since March 13.
My focus has been on COVID-19 coverage, making sure some of the student/athlete’s stories were told and all the transitions going on around area high school sports.
But I can’t let a tradition be another causality of the coronavirus. So this week it is time to recognize the first 12 seniors with part one of The Genuine Article’s Who’s Who for 2020
Mary Leslie Cranford & Anthony Smith
It’s not hard to see a good looking player in a sport. In the case of this year’s winners, Mary Leslie Cranford of TRA and Anthony Smith of Brighton impressed this reporter as freshmen.
Cranford has a graceful and powerful game on the volleyball court. Meanwhile, Smith held his own on the court among the Brighton Big Three of Taelyr Gatlin, Zach Lewis and Aaron Alston with Cardinal Basketball.
As the duo matured, they got physically stronger, smarter with their moves and leaders on the court.
Cranford could be fierce when the competition heated up. She executed timely spikes and was willing to share the ball with pinpoint passes.
She did all with a beautiful smile that lit up a gymnasium but hide her intentions to her competitor. Make no mistake, Cranford was there to bury the opposition. She earned her spot at Itawamba.
Smith earned his spot as one of the top players in District 13-3A. His junior season he was runner up for MVP with double-double numbers. He built his body in a statuesque structure prepared to battle in the paint.
His game-winning shot late in his senior season was the highlight of 2020. It was on a layup, the trademark of his game at Brighton. Smith was going to use his body to create enough space and use his soft touch for two points.
Most Likely to be a Stand-Up Comic
Lanette Carbajal-Travis & Tyler Byrd
In order to be recognized at one of the funniest students among your class, you need time around me away from the field. TRA’s Tyler Byrd and Millington’s Lanette Carbajal-Travis had access to me through visit for signings or covering educational events at their respective schools.
Travis was the goalie of the District 15-2A runner up Lady Trojans. Now she was good for laugh on the field as well directing her defense. Travis would use some inspirational words to create a spark for her defenders.
But I got to see Travis’ charm and quick wit when I visited the MCHS office. She would be an office worker for Ms. Toni (Doyle). We would start chatting about a topic of the day and Travis would have a funny observation on the various topics.
She was honest and not afraid to give a truthful review.
Byrd was no stranger to ruffling feathers with his sense of humor. From the media day with football to his training for Rebel Baseball with the Murfreesboro Challenge, Byrd flew in with his jokes about teammates, coaches and even me.
His straight delivery came across as serious but at the last second, Byrd would crack that smile.
Both Byrd and Travis knew when to be serious. Byrd was my biggest motivator when I took on the Murfreesboro Challenge. He kept me encouraged and let this old man know he can do it.
Travis would be heard giving pep talks to her teammates. And she kept her team pushing in the right direction. She would thank me after a game “for caring and supporting them.” That gratitude let me know she always kept her team first.
Sky Clark & Kaveyon Lewis
If you look at a photo of me 10 years ago, I pretty much dress the same way. I don’t have the guts or skills to pull off the style of Millington’s Sky Clark and Kaveyon Lewis.
Lewis makes wearing no socks look like a million bucks. Clark is gorgeous and can pull off just about any outfit.
The sky is the limit for her going causal with jeans and a shirt or red-carpet glamorous. Her Homecoming victory proves she sparkles under the lights. Clark dedicated a lot of hours of practice to the Millington volleyball and basketball teams over the years. But she made her wardrobe look effortless.
Speaking of a smooth, easygoing swag, Lewis is the man in this category. What glasses will he be wearing? What hairstyle will Lewis be sporting? What pattern will he feature. And the shoes was must-see every night before he took the court for the Trojan Basketball team.
Lewis was voted Best Dressed by his peers at MCHS. This old man right here, seconds that selection.
Most Likely to Succeed
Abby West & JT May
Success is measured in many way. The measurements on JT May are ideal for football standing 6’5 and weighing about 250 pounds. Samford has them a beast coming onto campus.
May’s TRA classmate Abby West is a steal for Dyersburg Softball. She is a speedy, lenghty and athlete player who can be placed anywhere on the field.
While West was on the TRA campus, she also contributed more than 1,000 points to the basketball team. She helped the Lady Rebels reached the State Tournament for the first time.
West, the 2019 Millington Star Female Athlete of the Year, set several hitting records for the Lady Rebel Softball team. Success gravitates to West because she works hard, listens to sound coaching and has a great support system.
She will give you her all so you don’t mind giving her your all.
May was selfless for the TRA football and baseball teams during his team at Rosemark. Wherever he was needed, May would give his best.
I saw him rush the football with power from the backfield. He would be one of the best blockers for record-setting teammates like Mac Fullen.
May was dangerous coming off the edge on defense. You didn’t run to his side. May has the size, skills and athleticism to be a NFL player. The scary part about May, he still has so much room to grow.
Most School Spirit
Lexi Peerey & Nick Johnson
If I see you at more games than me, I’m willing to hand you my notebook, camera and social media passwords to get the news and information out there. But the only reason I didn’t do this for Millington’s Lexi Peerey and Brighton’s Nick Johnson, they would give a bias report in favor of their respective alma mater.
Peerey shined on the Lady Trojan Volleyball team. Meanwhile Johnson has been the long-time quarterback for the Cardinals.
Once the pair of athletics are done with their sports in the fall, you will see them pop up time and time again in school colors supporting their peers.
Peerey got familiar with Millington sports as a little girl cheering on her big brother Aaron. Then she created her own legacy and connection with the black and gold.
She joined the Millington Yearbook staff to put her dedication to good use. Peerey has a smile that rivals her mother that sparkles like a diamond. That glowing face was a fixture in the student section.
Up the road in Brighton, Johnson followed a similar path to Peerey. His big sister Shayna was a former Athlete of the Year candidate twice.
Then Nick was thrust into the spotlight as a sophomore on the best Brighton Football team ever in 2017. He learned how to be a team player and support his peers from the QB spot. Then Johnson gave that same approach to his work in the student section by giving his time to root on his friends.
Johnson has an easy-going nature. But when it comes time to cheer on the Cardinals, Johnson unleashes various looks, cheers and personalities. And being an All-Star selection is an even better way to represent the Cardinals.
Jamiya Turner & Remiello Thomas
We conclude this week’s Who’s Who with a pair of Millington standouts. The funny part about the careers of Jamiya Turner and Remiello Thomas, they spent time elsewhere while in high school. Thomas was up near Washington DC for a year and Turner made her arrival to MCHS from Haywood.
Both made sure they wouldn’t be forgotten as Trojans.
Turner was a key part of the Millington Basketball and Softball teams. Thomas spent a little time on the hardwood but his carved his niche on the gridiron.
Thomas comes from a family of athletes. He pulled from a gene pool with no stranger to muscles and agility.
The cousin of the 2008 Tennessee Mr. Football Tausean Holmes, Thomas made sure he was a part of Trojan Football history as a key defender on the 8-2 Region 8-4A championship squad.
Thomas will reach the next level and has the potential to be playing on Sundays one day.
Turner should be playing college basketball somewhere. She has great touch around the rim and uses her powerful legs to explode to the basket for layups.
Turner has surprising handles and court vision. I guess all that time on the softball practice field working on hand-eye coordination has paid off.
Turner is smart and very coachable. Those elements helped her use her natural athleticism to be a crucial component for coaches Nic Buford and Whitney Horton.