Local Sports, Morgantown, Sports

A.J. Thomas leads Morgantown High past John Marshall with 123 yards rushing

MORGANTOWN — Truth be told, A.J. Thomas may be a year, or two, away from being “the guy” in the Morgantown High backfield.

For now, “I feel like one of the guys,” the 5-foot-10 sophomore said Friday night after leading Morgantown High to a 47-7 victory over John Marshall at Pony Lewis Field.

Thomas carried the ball nine times for 123 yards and scored on an 18-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter to pace an MHS offense that rushed for 309 yards on 38 attempts, an 8.1 average per carry.

“He’s only just a sophomore, but we saw a lot of promise in him over the summer,” Morgantown High coach Sean Biser said. “We’ve brought him along slowly. There’s a lot to learn in playing in our offense, but over time, he’s proven he can play for us on both sides of the ball.”

At the moment, the Mohigans (5-3) have a lot of guys in a crowded backfield. Thomas was one 10 ball carriers on the night.

“Honestly, I was on the freshman team last year, so I didn’t really know what to expect this year,” he said. “I didn’t really know any of the guys coming in, but I just kept working and getting comfortable.

“I had to gain trust. I had a lot to learn. I had to block before I could run.”

Thomas is off and running now, and MHS has another running threat a week before its Mohawk Bowl showdown with cross-town rival University High.

“I’ve known A.J. and his family for a long time,” said MHS senior linebacker Brodrick Washington, who caused a fumble that teammate Bobby Powell picked up and returned for a 34-yard touchdown in the second quarter that gave MHS a 25-7 halftime lead. “It sort of surprises me what he’s doing, but only because he’s still just a sophomore. He’s going to be a man in a couple of years.”

Washington was part of a MHS defense that held John Marshall (4-4) to just 148 total yards and caused three turnovers.

After Monarchs running back Klypson Wallace tied the game 7-7 early in the second quarter on a 5-yard run, John Marshall never threatened again.

“I really like how our defense is coming together,” said Washington, who also added 4-yard touchdown run for MHS in the second quarter. “I feel really good about the schemes we’re using. Everyone is pretty comfortable in their roles and I think our defense can carry us when we need it to.”

MHS quarterback Maddox Bowers completed 5 of 9 passes for 82 yards and threw a 31-yard TD pass to Jacob Keir.

John Marshall quarterback Jacob Coffield went 6 of 18 passing for 47 yards, but he was also intercepted once in the second half. Coffield also rushed for 19 yards on eight attempts.

But, the night belonged to Thomas, a young man still coming into his own, but with growing expectations.

“A lot of it goes back to this summer in the weight room,” Thomas said. “That’s where the work was put in and I started bonding with my teammates. My role is changing, but everyone else is doing their job, too. I just now feel like I’m starting to get in a groove.”

Box score
John Marshall 0 7 0 0—7
Morgantown 7 18 8 14—47

MHS—Jacob Steir 37 pass from Maddox Bowers (Aiden Stire kick)
JM—Klypson Wallace 5 run (Conor fitzpatrick kick)
MHS—Caleb Nutter 7 run (kick failed)
MHS—Brodrick Washington 4 run (kick failed)
MHS—Bobby Powell 34 fumble return (pass failed)
MHS—AJ Thomas 18 run (Washington run)
MHS—Powell 79 run (Stire kick)
MHS—Jacob Anderson 12 run (Stire kick)
RUSHING: Morgantown—Thomas 9-123 TD, Powell 3-81 TD, Nutter 8-26 TD, Anderson 3-26 TD, Marcus Ullom 3-5, Washington 5-10 TD, Matt Lindsey 2-8, Alex Fink 1-21, Andrew Anobile 1-11, Michael Savasta 2-10, Team 1-(-12). John Marshall—Wallace 8-35 TD, Jacob Coffield 8-19, John Wells 9-38, Jace Riding 1-10, Dimario White 1-4, Ashton Collett 5-29, Team 2-(-34).
PASSING: Morgantown—Bowers 5-9 82 TD. John Marshall—Coffield 6-18-1 47, Brennan Sobutka 0-1.
RECEIVING: Morgantown—Powell 3-24, Keir 1-31 TD, Andrew Phares 1-27. John Marshall—Braden Sobutka 2-31, White 3-11, Wallace 1-5.