Dora's Kai Thomas named Eagle's Player of the Year
by Johnathan Bentley
Dec 29, 2012 | 690 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DORA — Most high school football teams would have trouble replacing a 2,000-yard running back.

Dora is not most high school football teams — not with Kai Thomas waiting in the wings.

Thomas stepped into a starting role in the backfield in 2012. The results were immediate and prolific. Thomas didn’t only step in for former Dora running back Cody Staten, he surpassed him.

Thomas, a 5-foot-9, 155-pound senior, rushed for 2,058 yards along with 32 touchdowns for a Dora team that reached the state semifinals for the first time since 1986. He added a pair of receiving touchdowns along with a kickoff return for a score.

For his efforts, Thomas is the 2012 Eagle Elite Player of the Year.

Thomas set the tone this season with a 229-yard, three-touchdown performance against Cordova in the season opener. Against the Blue Devils, Thomas had touchdown runs of 59, 92 and 37 yards. That was just the beginning. Thomas scored at least one touchdown in all 14 games this season and rushed for at least two touchdowns in 11 games.

At first, Dora head coach Johnny Wright didn’t know what to expect from the unassuming Thomas.

“The year before I got here, they didn’t use him much,” Wright said of Thomas. “I knew he could run. With us moving to the Wing-T, I felt his quickness would really fit in there. I wasn’t sure until he put his pads on. Once he did, I knew it was the perfect offense for him.”

Thomas scored seven touchdowns in the first two games alone and had 11 after a three-touchdown game against West Blocton in Week 4.

In Dora’s lone regular-season loss to 5A powerhouse Muscle Shoals, Thomas scored the Bulldogs’ only touchdown on a reception from quarterback Caleb May.

Muscle Shoals was the only defense to hold Thomas under 100 yards. Wright also kept the running back under the century mark in Week 9 against Carbon Hill. In that game, Thomas rushed just three times for 78 yards, scoring each time he touched the ball.

Thomas was particularly strong in the postseason, totaling 565 yards and seven touchdowns in four games. He scored two touchdowns in each of the Bulldogs’ first three playoff games.

Thomas shined on both sides of the ball in Dora’s third-round, road victory over Charles Henderson, catching a 33-yard touchdown pass, rushing for a 64-yard score and picking off a pair of passes on defense.

“He had so many touchdown runs this year. Whenever he broke the line of scrimmage, he had a chance to score. The Charles Henderson game stands out. He broke a couple of big plays for us. That was a huge game for the program,” Wright said. “He had a big game in a big-time situation.”

Thomas finished the season averaging 10.8 yards per carry. He was one of three Dora players who rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season along with May and DeMarcus Kirk.

“Kai is a quality running back. He’s also a great defensive back and good at returning punts. People quit kicking to him pretty early on. He’s a very quiet kid. He’s the kind of kid you want as a team captain. The other guys looked up to him and the way he practiced so hard. He was a joy to coach,” Wright added.

Eagle Elite List

Offense

Quarterbacks: Oakman’s Jase Trotter, Winston County’s Seth Blanton, Curry’s Bradley Loggins,.

Athletes: Dora’s Caleb May and Corner’s Blake Byrd

Running Backs: Parrish’s Jermichael Harris, Oakman’s Chris Austin, Dora’s DeMarcus Kirk

Wide Recievers: Corner’s Kerry Smith, Oakman’s Quinton Harris, and Curry’s Lane Oliver

Offensive Line: Walker’s Brett Buchanan, Dora’s Cameron Ghotar, Dora’s Jarrett Eddy and Oakman’s Aaron Key

Place Kicker: Walker’s Joseph Pedraza

Defense

Linebackers: Walker’s Austin Mansell, Oakman’s Don Tyler Jackson, Lynn’s Bryan Clark, Walker’s Blake Moore and Dora’s Cade Stone.

Defensive Line: Dora’s Brantley Whitlow, Dora’s Joel Parrish, Parrish’s Brodrick Sanders and Oakman’s Hunter Williams.

Defensive Backs: Walker’s Quadrekas Key, Dora’s Deionte Smith, Oakman’s Purvis Coger and Meek’s Garrett Raines

Athlete: Cordova’s Andrew Minor and Dora’s DeAngelo Pendleton

Punter: Corner’s Troy Elliott

Honorable Mention

Addison: Franky Melson and Jesse Seals

Carbon Hill: Jacob Mitchell and Ryan Simerly

Cordova: Jamaal Cooper

Corner: Jake Averhart

Dora: Mark Davenport, Devonta Gosha, Zac Roberts, Robert Johnson and Stonie Phillips

Lynn: Dakota Bell and Brody Meeks

Meek: Cameron Hallmark and Jentson Hiller

Oakman: Reilly Williams and Mark Austin

Parrish: Chris Evans and Mason Seacrest

Sumiton Christian: Nathan Godwin, Austin Clark, Trey Collins and Riley Blackmon

Walker: Tyler Phillips

Winston County: Dylan Earnest and Tyler Linzer