PHOTO: The Thomas family following an NC State game at Carter-Finley Stadium, Lex, Drake, Shelly, Trevor and Thayer.
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By TOM SHANAHAN
They’re West Virginia transplants who’ve evolved into a Triangle first family of football. Trevor and Shelly Thomas and their three sons, Thayer, Drake and Lex, are in the middle of two heavyweight showdowns this weekend.
First is a Thursday night game — moved up a day due to Hurricane Ian rain forecasts — when Millbrook (5-0), the Triangle’s Sweet 16’s No. 3-ranked team, hosts No. 7 Heritage (5-0). Lex Thomas leads Heritage as a senior quarterback committed to N.C. State. Trevor, who was an offensive lineman at Marshall University, is a volunteer assistant coach for the Huskies. Shelly says she’ll arrive at the stadium around 6:30 p.m. to sit among the fans.
On Saturday, No. 10-ranked N.C. State (4-0) faces No. 5 Clemson (4-0) in an ACC showdown worthy of ESPN’s “College GameDay” crew setting up on the Clemson campus. The older Thomas brothers are Wolfpack starters — Thayer, a graduate student receiver, and Drake, a junior middle linebacker.
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I tell untold stories about college football integration focused but not limited to Michigan State’s 1960s leadership under College Football Hall of Fame coach Duffy Daugherty. However, I learned from writing “Raye of Light” presenting the facts is not enough. Myths and fiction distorting the role of Alabama coach Bear Bryant and the 1970 USC-Alabama game have been entrenched into college football lore at the expense of the true pioneers, North and South. My story exposing Bear Bryant as a segregationist coach attempting to manipulate a backdoor entry into the 1962 Rose Bowl was awarded first place for Enterprise in the Football Writers Association of America’s 30th annual contest for the 2021 season. First Place for Enterprise story.
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