Friday night the Aloha Warriors unleashed their lightning bolt in Tigard.
384 yards and three touchdowns later, Thomas Tyner played safety to make sure no one got behind the defense.
Watching from the end zone brought a special perspective on Tyner’s game. Call it the Herschel Walker effect, or the USC-era OJ Simpson effect. Tyner takes the ball like everyone else, but one blink later, he’s ahead of the pursuit and pulling away. When that happens a few times you start expecting it with every touch.
The power and speed he showed in the third quarter stunned the crowd. 251 yards does that every time.
Seeing the game from the corner of the end zone was the same view I had of another great running back.
In 2004, a friend invited me to see his old school play a football game. His old school was Oklahoma with the Oregon Ducks visiting. We had seats in the end zone while Adrian Peterson put on a show. One question kept coming up, “Who is this guy?”
Remember, this was the third game of his freshman year when Peterson was a substitute. In what felt like a coming out party for the career he took to the NFL, the Ducks got the full impact of a blossoming running back. Fans in green sat in the stands hoping he’d fall down.
Last Friday was a black-out game in Tigard, otherwise fans in green would have been waiting for Thomas Tyner to fall down, too. And that didn’t happen.
The rare treat of seeing exceptional athletes early in a career makes it even more special when you see them later. Seeing Peterson running through the NFL echoes back to seeing him run through the Ducks. The good news is Tyner will be a Duck next year.
Scheduled to join De’Anthony Thomas in Eugene, Oregon will have the sort of burners you hear about and wish were on your team. That wish is about to come true.
Thomas could have gone to another school. USC comes to mind. If that had happened, no one would have blinked. LA guy goes to LA school? Happens all the time in SoCal. Thomas would come up in conversation once or twice a year instead of every time you open the sports page.
By choosing Oregon, Thomas opened the door for smart and fast. Tyner will walk through that door next year, if not earlier, and the talk will start.
Will his game transfer to the PAC-12? Will he run track? And most incredibly, will Thomas Tyner be the greatest running back ever to wear a Duck uniform?
For all the glory and goodness one player can bring to football, it’s still a team sport. You still need the right bunch of guys between the lines. Friday’s game between Aloha and Tigard proved that point over and over.
For all the electricity Tyner unleashed, the Warriors got their win on a missed Tigard field goal with five seconds left in the game. Both teams wanted it enough to go all out before the final horn.
The view from the end zone showed Tigard’s Zach Floyd running down the sideline toward the flag. One defender stood in the way, measuring Floyd and breaking down for a tackle.
The Aloha Warrior was ready to deliver the sort of hit that football players train for, ready to plow into the numbers, wrap up and drive their guy to the turf. Zach Floyd had another idea. He went to the kitchen for some shake and bake. The defender literally fell over, half the spectators in the end zone nearly fell over, and Floyd skipped in to score.
During the last drive of the game Tigard’s Kaz Green caught a ball in front of the end zone crowd that made them believers, if there was any doubt about how good one player can be. He caught the ball while twisting and turning and still had enough left to make it out of bounds and set up the field goal.
There’s an old cliché about winning and losing that says both teams played so hard there was no loser. That happened Friday night. I didn’t believe it until then, but with Thomas Tyner scorching the field and the Tigers refusing to stand back and watch, it came true.
When Tyner joins the Ducks, he and De’Anthony can compare Tigers they’ve played against. One thing we know ahead of time is Tyner’s first game in college won’t be against LSU. Whoever they play will get the same view he gave plenty of Oregon high schools…the back of his jersey while he blazes down the field.