Five Local Athletes are CFB National Championship Game Bound
CENTRAL RED DEVILS, AUBURN HIGH TIGERS AND CHATTAHOOCHEE COUNTY TO BE REPRESENTED IN NEW ORLEANS
The College Football National Championship will end with a Tiger team from Death Valley as the victors. The Defending Champions, Clemson, will square off against LSU. Five local families will be feeling the pressure, including Charay Franklin, the mother of former Central Red Devils wide receiver Justyn Ross who plays for Clemson. Franklin has a roller coaster of emotions once her son catches the ball.
“I’m excited, I’m happy. I’m glad he caught it,” said Franklin. “Then I’m like looking at the DB or corner saying get off of him, like don’t fall on him. Don’t beat up on him like that.”
When Ross does score, he has a special celebration.
“If he sees me, he’ll blow a kiss, or he’ll just blow a kiss at the stands and I know that’s for me.”
The sophomore is one of Clemson Quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s go-to receivers. Ross has the second most receiving yards for the Tigers this season, totaling 789 yards on 61 receptions and eight touchdowns. Ross along with freshman red-shirt safety Ray Thornton and LSU backup quarterback Peter Parrish will represent Central. All three Central athletes have not lost a game in two seasons. In 2018, both Thornton and Parrish helped lead Central to a AHSAA State Championship, finishing with a record of (14-0). Clemson went undefeated in the 2018-19 season, and both LSU and Clemson are (14-0) this year. At least one former Red Devil will lose for the first time in two seasons.
“That’s what I like about Central, Phenix City, and Red Devils as a family. Everybody is tuned in,” said Thornton’s mother Brandy Brown. “Even for Coach (Jamey) Dubose, I’m sure he’s going to be like, he has three players playing. It’s just going to be a big thing.”
Parrish sits behind Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow on the LSU depth chart, and he is excited to join LSU in the championship game.
“Oh yeah man it’s great. We ready,” said Parrish. “Ready to go, let’s get it.”
If you ask his family, Parrish has learned a lot from the Heisman quarterback.
“I saw Joe Burrow show him different reads and stuff like that,” said Parrish’s father Peter Parrish Sr. “Stuff to look out for and he’s a good mentor.”
Auburn High alum Avery Atkins will join Parrish in in purple and gold. The sophomore is LSU’s kickoff specialist, but if you ask his parents Jack and Nikki Atkins, Avery loves to bring out his skills from back when he wore number nine and played safety with the Auburn High Tigers.
“After the games it’s not like how many kicks did I get out of the end zone or did I kick nine out of ten,” said Avery’s father Jack Atkins. “He comes out and he’s like ‘Did you see that tackle!’ You know and gets fired up about his tackle because…”
“That’s the safety coming out of him,” said Nikki Atkins.
For guys like former Chattahoochee County running back Ty Lucas, he’s happy to contribute to the Clemson team. Lucas has a huge family support system, especially his dad Cody Lucas. Ty is also supported by his mother, step-mom, friends and neighbors of the community. Cody Lucas, the Signal Detachment Commander in SOCPAC, had this advice for his son.
“I think it’s just better for him and how he’s aligned himself in our family, be thankful for the opportunities God has given him, saver the moment, because these memories will last forever.”
Clemson and LSU have strong squads this season, but only one team can win.
“The Tigers. Hahahaha,” joked Nikki Atkins.
“We all know that Clemson is going to bring it home,” said Brown.
“I’m very hopeful that LSU would win,” said Jack Atkins.
On Monday, January 13, fans will find out which Tiger team will take home the National Championship. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. EST at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Good luck to all of our local athletes!