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  • 23 Oct 2014

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Thomas Tyner turns heads, but has his on straight

Before I explore the vast virtues of one Thomas Tyner, let me salute Aloha’s Chris Casey for his considerable act of mercy to coaching counterpart Bob Boyer of Beaverton.

Casey could have named his score in the Metro League matchup between the schools Friday night at Aloha, with the third-ranked Warriors in front 42-6 at halftime before calling off the dogs in a 42-22 victory.

Tyner sat out the entire second half, along with the last possession of the second quarter, and Casey used his full complement of 65 players to allow the 10th-ranked Beavers to walk off the field not feeling completely destroyed.

The 6-foot, 205-pound Tyner made his presence felt as always, though, carrying the ball 15 times for 311 yards and five touchdowns in the Warriors’ first six possessions.

Had he desired, Casey could have let his explosive senior tailback challenge the state single-game rushing records of 643 yards and 10 TDs in an 84-63 win over Lakeridge last month. With the victory safely tucked away, that wasn’t going to happen on Casey’s watch.

“We don’t think about records,” Casey said. “We think about team. Everything here is community, school and team. We’re blue-collar. We have to buy into everything we do together to have success.”

Taking a cue from his classy coach, Tyner had no problem with his short night, either.

“It was nice to give my legs a break,” Tyner said as he greeted well-wishers and signed autographs afterward. “It’s fun watching and coaching up the back-ups. They did a good job.”

Tyner was a man among boys Friday night, as he has been much of the season as Aloha has jumped to a 6-0 record in its bid to win a second Class 6A championship in three years. He had touchdown runs of five, seven, 93, 30 and 28 yards and also had scampers of 29 and 19 yards on a night when the Beaver defenders were mostly grasping at thin air.

Casey doesn’t get too fancy with his offensive schemes when it comes to Tyner. The Aloha playbook is mostly toss right, toss left and off-tackle slants, and the fleet Tyner had plenty of open space to maneuver as his offensive line

won the line of scrimmage.

“My performance was all on the line,” Tyner said modestly. “The line did good, so I did good, too.”

The 93-yard run was a thing of beauty, a toss-left play in which Tyner broke an attempted tackle just past the line of scrimmage and skirted up the sideline as the jam-packed throng cheered his dash to paydirt.

“I hit the corner hard,” he said with a smile. “I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I did. It was a bit gassed. I think that was the longest run of my career.”

Casey is not given to superlatives, so he paid homage to the supporting cast before turning his tributes over to the star of the show.

“People talk about us being a one-man team,” said Casey, who will leave Aloha after this year to become head coach of the fledging collegiate program at George Fox next season. “That’s ridiculous. It all starts with blocking at the point of attack. But I’ll say this: I’d take Thomas Tyner over any running back in the country.”

I think Casey meant over any high school back, but I forgot to pin him down. He could have meant any college back, for all I know. Tyner seems that good.

There surely were many Oregon fans in the overflow crowd that ringed the field in standing-room only spots who salivate over what the young man can do with the Ducks once he begins his college career next season.

“How good Thomas can be, I can’t tell you, but he’s the best player I’ve coached from the standpoint of talent and reaching your potential at the highest level,” Casey said.

Pressed to expound, Casey added, “I think he’ll be very good (with the Ducks). He is such a good run-to-daylight guy. That’s perfect for their zone package. He catches the ball so well. And they’re a speed team, and he’s a speed kid.”

Boy, is he. Tyner holds the state prep 100-meters record of 10.35 seconds and was the 6A champion as a sophomore in 2011. He has all the burst a runner needs, plus shiftiness to elude tacklers, and I’m guessing plenty of power to bust through tacklers, though he didn’t have to show that often Friday night.

If Tyner is a bit bored with the ease at which he dominates the competition at the high school level, he masks it well.

“You have to respect your opponent,” he told me. “We executed well tonight, and that’s what opened up the holes and put the points on the board.”

Tyner has accumulated 1,968 yards and 26 TDs on just 151 carries in Aloha’s six games, an amazing 13.0-yard average. Those are video-game numbers, but they are real in Tyner’s case. He is well on his way to the the state single-season record of 3,335 yards by Cory McCaffrey of Class 4A Sisters in 2006.

“I’m going to shoot for that record,” Tyner said.

I don’t think his coach would mind him saying that, as long as Tyner understands he won’t stay in games long in which the Warriors blow out their opponents.

Tyner most wants to finish his prep career by adding another state title to the one he helped Aloha gain during his sophomore campaign. The Warriors piled up something like 120 yards in penalties against Beaverton, so there is some cleaning up to do. But they have a nice team, a terrific coach and maybe the best high school running back the state has ever seen.

“There’s a pretty good chance we can win it again,” Tyner said. “A lot of our guys were on the (2010) state championship team. A lot of the linemen were young guys on that team and are back here again.

“We have a lot of potential. I saw it from the first day of practice. The penalties were crazy tonight, but if we discipline ourselves, we should be just fine.”

Tyner seems to have his head on straight, which his coach can verify.

“Thomas is humble,” Casey said. “He is the captain this year selected by his teammates. He has a great family, does a great job with leadership, is very coachable and a good, all-around kid.”

Tyner told a fan he is skipping Oregon’s Saturday night game with Washington to attend Homecoming festivities at Aloha. I liked hearing that. The pressures of college football will come soon enough. Enjoy high school life while you can, young man.