Creek’s Thomas lets play do his talking

Senior Lane Thomas exploded for 196 yards and two TDs in Creek’s 35-20 win over Winnfield. (Photo by Tim Smith)

By Malcolm Butler

Lane Thomas isn’t an overly boisterous young man. 

In fact, quite the opposite. Thomas is down right quiet.

However, on Friday nights, the senior tailback and defensive back for the Cougars lets his play do all of his talking.

And so far through three games, it’s been plenty loud.

Creek head coach Matt Middleton said Thomas is a special talent for a number of reasons. 

“He wants to have the ball in his hands,” said Middleton. “He wants to be the guy. And I want him to have the ball. That’s how crucial he is. If I can find him ways to get him the ball we have a great chance to win football games. He is our guy that makes us go right now.

“He’s a great player. He scores a bunch of touchdowns, rushes for yards, and will make 13 or 14 tackles. He’s just a phenomenal football player. He was raised right. Just a good kid.”

Thomas is one of a number of Cougars who doesn’t get much rest on Friday nights during the fall. He plays almost every play of every game. 

“Oh yeah you can feel it for sure,” said Thomas about playing almost the entirety of the 48-minute ball games. “The fourth quarter you have to kind of get into a different mindset to finish. You have to want to win. You got to want it.”

And want it he has.

When he isn’t breaking a run for a long TD, he is stopping an opposing player in his tracks. He ranks third on the team in total tackles with 27, trailing only Quincy Lewis (37) and Lawson Lillo (28).

Despite the fact he is quite the playmaker on the offensive side of the ball, Thomas said he prefers defense. Heck, even on that side of the football he finds a way to score for the Cougars, illustrated by his pick six in the 30-29 loss to Vidalia in week two.

“Honestly, defense,” said Thomas when asked which side of the ball he likes the most. “I’ve always liked defense the best. Just the challenge of stopping the other team.”

During last Friday’s 35-20 win over Class 2A Winnfield, Thomas did plenty of stopping the other team. He led the Cougars with 14 tackles against the Tigers. 

What makes him one of the Cougars top defensive players?

“Just his tenacity,” said Middelton. “He will strike you. And you either got that as a player or you don’t. He loves contact. He finds a way to be around the ball. He’s extremely instinctive and reactive.”

Thomas played mostly slot receiver for Cedar Creek last year, especially early in the season. He played behind Jed Worthey on the two-deep at running back as Worthey was the bell cow for the Cougars in 2021. 

But this year that is Thomas’s role on the Creek offense. And he has run with it … literally. 

“It really hasn’t been too much of a difference for me this year,” Thomas said. “I just know that I have a bigger role. I have to run the ball; be a bigger part of our offense and a bigger part of winning.”

Middleton agrees 100 percent.

“He’s an elusive kid, but he’s tough and will run over you,” said Middleton. “He can also separate. He’s got some top-end speed that people don’t realize he’s got. He’s gotten better at finding holes and hitting them. In the past because he is such a tough kid he just tried to run over everyone. At the end of the day it’s about scoring touchdowns. He’s done that for us this year. He’s been phenomenal.”

Thomas said he feels he can be thunder or lightning when carrying the ball and given the situation.

“I’m pretty shifty,” said Thomas. “But I can go downhill too if I need to. I’m a guy that looks for the contact.”

In the win over Winnfield, Thomas rushed for 196 yards and two touchdowns, scoring on runs of 87 and 74 yards. On both plays, he showed his speed.

“He runs wide open all the time,” said Middleton. “There’s no second or third gear; he’s in fifth gear all the time. That’s what makes him so special.

“He separated and just left those guys. We saw cover zero and a little cover one where they were going to load the box and try to cause problems, and he obviously made them pay.”

Thus far this season, Thomas has rushed for 426 yards and five touchdowns on 67 carries, averaging over 140 yards per game and over 6.3 yards per carry. 

And although he deserves all the praise he has received, he is quick to give his teammates credit for his success.

“The line did great,” said Thomas. “Watching film they were the reason we rushed for so many yards. They executed their blocks perfectly. Just how we practice all week. I like pushing myself. Doing the best I can. But honestly I couldn’t do it without my line and my teammates helping block.”

Middleton also knows for the Cougars to get on a role in the win column, it will take Thomas and the entire team to perform at the same level they did last weekend.

“We had other guys that made plays the other night,” said Middleton. “Lane will tell you that. The offensive line did a phenomenal job too. He will tell you that as well. We are having other players step up which allows him to be able to make more explosive plays. I think you saw that the other night.”

And Creek fans hope they see it again this Friday night when the Cougars host Delhi at 7 p.m.

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