High School Football

No. 6 Falcons fall in regional semis, but seniors’ legacy intact

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 12/24/20

As much as Tompkins was optimistic and confident about its chances heading into its Class 6A-Division I regional semifinal on Thursday afternoon, No. 1 state-ranked North Shore, the defending back-to-back Class 6A-DI state champion, was simply too much.

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High School Football

No. 6 Falcons fall in regional semis, but seniors’ legacy intact

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As much as Tompkins was optimistic and confident about its chances heading into its Class 6A-Division I regional semifinal on Thursday afternoon, No. 1 state-ranked North Shore, the defending back-to-back Class 6A-DI state champion, was simply too much.

The No. 6 Falcons fought admirably, but the Mustangs had too much firepower and it showed in Tompkins’ 47-22 loss at Legacy Stadium. Tompkins (10-1) was handed its first loss of the season and finished as a regional semifinalist for the third straight season.

The Falcons trailed 33-7 with 5:21 left in the third quarter but rallied to within 33-22 with 10:07 left before the Mustangs pulled away.

“I’m proud of the way they kept competing,” Tompkins coach Todd McVey said. “They kept fighting. We talk about finishing things all the time. They drink the Kool-Aid because they believe in the program and what we do and the culture, and they fight for each other. Watching it and seeing it … 17-and-18-year-olds who play for each other and care about each other, it says a lot about who they are.”

North Shore’s incredible duo of senior quarterback and Auburn signee Dematrius Davis and senior receiver and Texas A&M signee Shadrach Banks was special.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Davis was other-worldly, completing 14 of 17 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns to one interception and rushing for 84 yards and four touchdowns on 12 carries.

When the Falcons made their run, it was Davis, who accounted for 64 percent of North Shore’s 602 total yards, who put them away for good. He scored on runs of three and seven yards, respectively, to close out Tompkins late in the fourth quarter, bringing his touchdown total to 54 this season.

“He’s a great player and he’ll do great things at Auburn,” said senior defensive end Justin Bevrotte, who had four tackles and an athletic pick of Davis on an attempted screen pass. “We tried to keep him in the pocket and collapse it. North Shore is a great team, but we made some mistakes, like not wrapping up, and they took advantage of it.”

Davis’s favorite target, almost always on screen passes, was the 6-1, 225-pound Banks, who caught 11 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns and also had 28 yards on two carries.

“They execute well,” McVey said. “They’re very good athletically and very talented. But I thought our defense played hard against them and gave them fits. Those two are where they’re at for a reason.”

Tompkins senior quarterback and Alabama signee Jalen Milroe completed 10 of 20 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown to one interception as North Shore consistently applied pressure on the 6-2 signal-caller. Milroe was sacked three times and found himself backpedaling early and often against a rabid rush.

“They’re a talented defense, very talented,” Milroe said. “Fast, physical. But it was all about us. There was nothing they did that was special. We made mistakes, and they executed off those mistakes.”

Tompkins’ standout was senior running back and Tulsa signee Marquis Shoulders. The speedster was impressive, rushing for 137 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and catching four passes for 22 yards and another score. He added a 76-yard kick return for a score to account for all three of the Falcons’ touchdowns.

“The holes at the second level (of the defense) were huge, so after I got past the first level it was wide open,” Shoulders said.

McVey could not have been prouder of the 5-9, 155-pound dynamo.

“He’s someone who never complains and just works every day, and I love when it’s the smallest guy on the field who plays the hardest,” McVey said. “He competes. I’m going to miss him.”

The class of 2021—anchored by team captains Milroe, Temisan Alatan, Dru Polidore and Colby Huerter—will be one McVey never forgets. These seniors were freshmen during his inaugural season at the helm of the Falcons in 2017 and forged an identity.

“What I take away most is the family of it,” Bevrotte said. “This is definitely a brotherhood. I’m gonna miss all these guys; all these coaches, they are like my second dads. They’ve made me the better person I am today.”

The senior class helped to eventually establish the Falcons as a regional contender. They brought the program its first district championship this year and third consecutive 10-win season. They had Tompkins ranked state-wide and nationally (No. 21).

“It’s all the adversity they have gone through,” McVey said. “It’s how they responded. It’s how we had a pretty good outcome. We started back in August, all the uncertainty and things of a pandemic and not knowing what was going on, and we’re playing on Christmas Eve. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Milroe graduates as the best player in the program’s short history. In his three-year varsity career, Milroe won 31 games and completed 321 of 541 passes (59.3 percent) for 5,400 yards and 53 touchdowns to 14 interceptions, adding 1,208 yards and 22 more touchdowns rushing.

“Jalen’s had a big target on his back, and I think he’s done a great job with that and being a leader, especially this year,” McVey said. “I’m happy for his future and we’ve been blessed to have him. I will always be a Jalen Milroe fan.”

Milroe said his high school career taught him to never back down.

“There’s four quarters, and in crucial moments teams are looking for a quarterback to lead the offense. That’s an important responsibility,” Milroe said. “No matter what the score is, you have to be cool, calm and collected. That’s what I learned as a player, and also being open-minded to coaching and always expanding knowledge. Coming into high school, it was about growing as a player and person. I felt I did that. I couldn’t be more thankful for what I learned. It’s been a fun ride and I enjoyed the journey.”

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