With a few college scholarship offers tucked away, Alfred Thomas longingly eyes other numbers, though they’re something few outside of high school might understand.
Thomas, a sophomore defensive end at Sidney Lanier, has been crunching his totals and they go beyond the five-star level bestowed upon him or the universities wooing him.
Twitter followers are his latest passion. He’s looking for more.
“I want about 3,000,” Thomas, aka @AlfredThomas05, said. “I’m low on it right now. They don’t follow me back.”
Thomas may be new to Twitter — he just created his account a few months ago — but his frustrations likely won’t last too long.
Maybe Lanier’s, too.
Thomas is part of a promising sophomore class for the Poets, who have coined a motto that reflects both the school’s architecture, its proud history and its recent, football-wise, stench.
Reclaiming the Castle.
Third-year coach C.J. Harris and principal Antonio Williams, both 2001 Lanier graduates, were the primary authors of the phrase.
“When I was there and he was there, we were on top,” Harris said. “Lanier was the talk of the city, and it was one of the top teams in the state.
“Rome wasn’t built in a night, but work was done every day. As long as we’re going to work every day, we’re going to get ready and we’re going to try to reclaim the castle and get it back to where it used to be.”
Since Harris caught his last pass for the Poets, Lanier has just two playoff wins — both in 2006.
The Poets, whose trophy case overflows with memorabilia of success, are on a run of eight straight losing seasons.
It includes the first 0-10 season in the school’s 100-plus years. And the second.
“It’s been tough,” senior safety Ky’Shaun McDaniel said.
But McDaniel says signs of a renaissance are evident.
The Poets have started $100,000 worth of sports-related renovations, the first step of which they saw in the school’s weightroom.
“It’s great,” McDaniel said. “I like everything they did. I’ve been in there every day.”
Then there’s the players that, at least according to what’s been in the mail, have talent.
Thomas’ first offers came from North Carolina and Mississippi State. Sophomore quarterback James Foster, who bears the brunt of the Poets’ verbal barbs, also has a UNC offer and says the Tar Heels are his favorite.
“I know everyone is excited,” said Foster, called “Bug” by his teammates. “They should be. I’m ready to win.”
The Poets hope they can add their own touch to the overstocked trophy case in the school’s gym.
They’d like to see a picture of themselves tucked away among all the other memories.
“I just want that feeling one day. Hopefully, I can get it this year,” senior linebacker Cameron Taylor said. “It’s great knowing the school has a great tradition.
“We want to bring the tradition back. We want to reclaim the castle.”
SIDNEY LANIER POETS
Region: Class 5A, Region 2
2014: 2-8 (2-4 region)
Coach: C.J. Harris (third season, 2-18)
Coordinators: Harris (offense), Marvin Cunningham (defense)
Best-case scenario: The Poets reverse last year’s four-point loss at Rehobeth, go to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and extend their season by one week.
Worst-case scenario: Lanier relives the glory only by admiring its trophy case and misses the postseason for the 22nd time in 28 years.
Aug. 28 Park Crossing
Sept. 4 at Eufaula
Sept. 12 Rehobeth
Sept. 17 BTW-Tuskegee (ASU)
Sept. 24 at Jeff Davis
Oct. 1 Charles Henderson
Oct. 9 at Greenville
Oct. 16 Alabama Chr.
Oct. 23 open
Oct. 30 Fairfield
at Lee-Montgomery L, 15-0
at Park Crossing L, 20-6
Eufaula L, 19-12
at Rehobeth L, 22-18
at BTW-Tuskegee W, 9-6
Jeff Davis L, 24-0
at Charles Henderson L, 19-0
Greenville L, 27-12
at Alabama Chr. W, 25-14
at Fairfield L, 21-0
— A. Stacy Long