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Shelby County High School receivers Matthew Page and Edwin Thomas lined up next to each other down after down for the Rockets football team.
Page, 6 feet, 185 pounds, was usually on the outside. Thomas, 5-7, 160, was usually on the inside.
These teammates were side-by-side again Wednesday, as they signed letters-of-intent to play for Lindsey Wilson College and its inaugural football team.
“He’s kind of been my partner,” Page said. “We lined up on the same side of the field. We played corn hole tournaments together. It’s kind of cool that we’re both going to get to go and room together.”
Both athletes earned partial athletic scholarships and other grants. Lindsey Wilson is a liberal arts, Division 1 NAIA college.
As players on a first-year program, Thomas and Page will have the opportunity to start as freshmen.
“Coach [Chris] Oliver called up me and Matt,” Thomas said. “He’s having a spread offense. He watched some film on us during the season and thought we would fit right into the Lindsey Wilson offense.
“I hope for the best. Hopefully, we can help them out, stay four years and make it a great program.”
Thomas was recruited as a defensive back and kickoff returner. He may also play some wide receiver.
SCHS Coach Todd Shipley said Thomas would put opponents on “lockdown” when he played defensive back.
“He wasn’t scared,” Shipley said. “He could cover anybody out there.”
But it was on special teams where Thomas really wowed. As a junior, he returned three kickoffs for a touchdown.
As a senior, Thomas busted a 98-yard touchdown return against Male. And after Male answered with its own return for a touchdown, Thomas lined up again for a kickoff.
“He breaks it again,” Shipley recalled. “We had 10 yards to go [after he was tackled], and he was done. The game-changer; that’s what we needed.”
Shipley may have teased Thomas for not being a long-distance runner, but Thomas earned accolades on the track, taking 16th in the AAA State Track Meet in the 100-meter dash in 2009. He may run for Lindsey Wilson, too.
Page was recruited as a wide receiver and may see some time on special teams. As a receiver for Shelby County, Page scored five touchdowns and had 33 catches as a sophomore. He was just getting started.
As a junior, Page also played quarterback some, and he threw for seven touchdowns and 1,000-plus yards. His junior year, Page had 453 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.
He was teased for getting knocked out twice by the same Scott County opponent and for being a little weepy during his peewee football years. Granted, this was usually when his father, Frank Page, would punish him.
“I knew he had the heart to give it his all,” Page said of coaching his son at the fourth-grade level.
Shipley agreed: “I can’t say enough on the quality of these young men. They’re good guys in the locker room. They always told people how good they were at corn hole. But they also knew when to get the work done.”
Page and Thomas said they learned a little bit from Shipley and the Rockets coaching staff, too.
“The best thing they teach here is the leadership role,” Thomas said. “I think we can go to Lindsey Wilson and be some great leaders.”
Thomas is interested in studying communications and becoming a broadcaster. Page would like to study math.
“I’d like to thank God, my coaches and Sports Legends. They always sponsored us with good sports equipment,” Page said. “I think the coaches have done a wonderful job of just making me a better person. They worked me. They pushed me. But they pretty much taught me to be a respectable young guy.”