BY BRAD LOCKE
Though it's come much earlier than he'd like, the time to move on is here for Montario “Tojo” Patterson.
The Biggersville senior's high school football career is done, thanks to a broken ankle suffered during a practice two weeks ago. He leaves behind a distinguished varsity career: 2,495 rushing yards, 3,572 total yards, and a 2006 Daily Journal All-Area third team selection, to name just a few feats.
Despite his efforts, Patterson experienced little team success. The Lions have won only nine games since 2004, his first year as a starter. They are currently 0-4 after a 14-0 setback to perennial Region 1-1A cellar dweller Thrasher.
“I tried to get everybody together,” Patterson said. “Everybody said it was my team, but it was hard trying to get everybody to play together.”
He's impossible for head coach Ronnie Lawson to replace.
“We've just got to put together drives more. We don't really have a big-play threat,” Lawson said.
Patterson was always a threat to go the distance. Though he'd gained just 60 yards rushing in two games this fall, he had kickoff returns of 95 and 96 yards for touchdowns.
Now he looks ahead to track season – basketball's probably out – and his college future. He's committed to Mississippi State to play football, and he said he feared his injury might scare the Bulldogs away.
He's received assurances from the coaching staff that he's still wanted.
“That's what's keeping me going straight,” he said. “They said get healthy, get cleared by the (NCAA) Clearinghouse and get ready for practices.”
It was hard enough having to face their old coach, Charlie Dampeer, but Tishomingo County's football players had other worries going into Friday's matchup with Pontotoc.
“They've had the stomach virus all week. We were banged up and had an emotional game last week against Corinth, the same kind of game this was,” first-year coach Steve Carter said after the Braves' 12-7 win. “But just being the fact that we were playing against Coach Dampeer and his staff that used to be there, that had a little bit of an emotional edge for us, I think, and helped us get ready.”