Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson has seen enough football players to notice a certain attribute when it comes along.
That football junkie mentality, knowing every aspect of how the game can be broken down, is a praise he heaps on linebacker Octavius Thomas.
The Toast of the Coast Defensive Player of the Year was the centerpiece of a Myrtle Beach defense that had another stellar season. And Wilson sees a trait in Thomas that so few high school players have.
“I think OT would be a phenomenal coach one day,” Wilson said. “He’s a student of the game and he has that love for football.”
Thomas was often watching as much film as the coaching staff. He learned to anticipate offensive movement before the play even took place, and it’s why he was in the right spot time after time.
The 5-foot-9, 210-pound linebacker with the bleached-blond Mohawk had the numbers to prove it.
He finished his senior season with 187 tackles to lead the area in that category for the second time in three years. Thomas also had 29 tackles for loss, nine sacks and eight forced fumbles.
It helped him make up for a junior season in which he missed the majority of the year with multiple injuries.
“You have to play every game like it’s your last,” Thomas said of his approach to the game. “I know what it’s like to not be able to play.”
Thomas’ season ended at the SCADA North-South All-Star Football game, where he helped the South squad end a four-year losing streak in the series. And just like every other game he played, he analyzed what went right and what didn’t.
Thanks to the Seahawks’ recent success, he’s had plenty of film to scour. Thomas, after serving as a ball boy for Myrtle Beach’s 2008 state title team, helped the school bring home its sixth one in 2010.
It was a driving force for this year’s team, although it ended in a Class AAA playoff second-round loss at Hanahan.
“He was starting for us as a sophomore when we won the state championship. He wanted to get another one,” Wilson said. “They had a great year, but it ended a little bit too soon.”
Thomas believes the North-South game won’t be his last. He has some college interest, although not as much as he’d like. Walking on and trying to earn a scholarship somewhere is also a realistic possibility.
The game is a part of him, and he’s always ready to analyze the next snap.
“I’ve been playing this game since I was 4 years old and my dad signed me up. Whenever I have free time, I’m watching football,” Thomas said.
However, breaking down football as a potential future coach can wait.
Thomas is hoping he can continue to do so as a player.
Contact IAN GUERIN at firstname.lastname@example.org.