Stepping up: Trinity senior takes leadership role

Published 11:30 pm Monday, September 25, 2017


NATCHEZ — Just a couple weeks ago, Trinity Episcopal running back Anfernee Thomas was without a starting position on the team.

In his final season, Thomas was wondering just how exactly to find his place as a leader.

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“I guess I could say I was having a few problems with a few people,” Thomas said. “Coach (Graham Roberts) and I got into it a little bit, and he took my starting spot from me. I wanted it back bad, and I had to get on it.”

Through a strong bond between a coach and a player, the senior has returned.

In Trinity’s game last Thursday night against Adams County Christian School, it was Thomas taking the snaps from the backfield. Now, Roberts said he barely recognizes him.

“We had to have some very tough conversations through the first couple weeks of the season,” Roberts said. “I told him I needed him to step up and make a new direction. He exceeded my expectations to be a part of this football team — to be a leader and do the things we want him to do.”

Thomas said he is not exactly sure where his early season struggles originated, but it might have something to do with the pressure to perform.

Last season, Trinity utilized running back David Jackson — who has since graduated — to do most of the rushing.

Jackson ended his senior year with 130 carries for 846 yards and nine touchdowns. He also caught three additional scores.

“Last year was tough. I played a little bit of defense, but since I was the back up to David it was a little different,” Thomas said. “I had to fill big shoes.”

The Saints (1-4) have suffered this season from low numbers, but have one thing working to their advantage. Their schedule so far has been filled with much bigger schools.

Trinity will finally begin district play this week when it travels to Prairie View Academy Friday.

“It gave us a good look and showed us what we need to fix,” Thomas said. “Knowing that everyone wants to hit their goal of a state championship, you know you’re going to be playing a good team when you get there. We have seen a bunch of tough teams, so we know what we have to do.”

Roberts agreed the close bond has aided his team.

“We don’t make it a secret,” he said. “We talk about how important it is that we can’t afford to complain about our numbers. We have to make the best of our situation and continue to compete. Anfernee has really taken ownership in that.”

Thomas is thankful his coach is just as connected, too.

“He does a great job keeping our heads on straight. He has always been the type of guy to tell me to talk to him if I need something,” he said. “Whenever I have a problem, I know I can come and just sit down and talk with him. Anything at all — he helps me handle it.”