At the Top of the List: Rollison named All-State quarterback by Associated Press Sports Writers

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Dec. 20, 2007 - The Sulphur Springs Wildcats landed five players on the Class 4A All-State football team, highlighted by junior quarterback Tyrik Rollison' First Team selection.

Rollison was voted by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the state's top quarterback in Class 4A, based on regular season production. He was joined on the All-State team by Honorable Mention selections senior wide receiver Chris Thompson, senior linebacker Josh Dunn, senior defensive end Tyler Francis and junior safety Johnny McSheffery.

SSHS head coach Greg Owens said the honors are a reflection not only of the individual talent of the players, but of the success of the entire team.

"It's a great honor to be mentioned among the state's best. The season Tyrik had was pretty phenomenal, but he didn't do it all by himself," Owens said. "It takes 10 other guys out there all pulling together, from the receivers running great routes and blocking, to the line protecting to the running backs involved in there.

"We talked about in the beginning of the year, 'Let's focus on the team. Let's worry about the team, and the personal accolades will take care of themselves.' I think we did that."

Rollison, who is listed by as the No. 2 junior quarterback in the nation, finished the regular season with 3,321 yards passing. He completed 263 passes out of 370 attempts (70 percent) and threw for 34 TDs.

He also ran 112 times for 512 yards and seven more touchdowns on his way to being voted the District 11-4A Most Valuable Player.

It's hard to find any school records he hasn't broken, and he has another year left at SSHS. Along the way, several SSHS receivers broke school records as well.

"Tyrik was First Team, and I look at that like our entire offense was First Team because it's not just about him," Owens said. "It all works together. He's a great talent with a tremendous arm and some uncanny abilities at quarterback, but it's still about all of them working together."

One of the record-setting receivers was Thompson, who caught 51 passes for 778 yards and 10 TDs during the regular season. Counting the Wildcats' playoff game, he had 11 touchdowns, which is a new school record.

Thompson has been offered a football scholarship by Southern Arkansas, as has Francis.

"There will be other offers coming for them and other kids, too," Owens said. "Honorable mention means you're mentioned among the best 4A players across the state of Texas. You're one of the best."

Francis led the team in tackles for losses with 11. He also had 3.5 sacks and 80 total tackles.

"Tyler Francis is probably one of the most improved defensive players we had," Owens said of the 6-4, 230-pound senior who was named the 11-4A Co-Defensive Player of the Year.

Dunn, who was a Second Team All-District selection, got a measure of satisfaction by being an Honorable Mention All-State nominee after leading the team with 124 tackles and five sacks during the regular season.

"Josh Dunn, we kind of felt like he got a raw deal in the All-District voting, so this solidifies the quality type of year he had," Owens said.

McSheffery, a unanimous First Team All-District selection, had 75 tackles and four interceptions during the regular season, then returned another interception for a touchdown in the bi-district game.

"Johnny made some tremendous improvements in the spring to be able to go get the ball," Owens explained. "He and Day Day (Jackson) both did a good job of going to the ball, knocking it down and getting interceptions."

Owens said the team should be proud of the honors the five received, but they won't dwell on it too much.

"Everybody can't get mentioned all the time, but these are tremendous honors, and we look at this like our entire team is being recognized," he said. "But, we're not going to get big-headed about this. We've got to get ready for a new season."

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