McLegends big on confidenceFlossmoor/041710 - Coca-Cola McLegends' Rodney Harrison (left) is defended by 2010 High School Boys All-Stars Herb Offord (34) during McLegends IX at Homewood-Flossmoor High School Saturday, April 17, 2010. (Brett Roseman/SouthtownStar) mensmclegends_P07/sports
2011 Coca-Cola McLegends
Coach: LaMarr Thomas, 1966 Thornton/Michigan State Jason Avant, 2002 Carver/Michigan
Jason Avant, 2002 Carver/Michigan
Kenyea Beach, 1996 Crete-Monee/East Central Oklahoma State
Dawayne Burton, Fairdale (Ky.)/Point Loma Nazarene
Marquice Cole, 2002 Hillcrest/Northwestern
Dave Daniel, 1988 Bloom/St. Xavier
Winfield Garnett, 1994 Thornton/Ohio State
Jermaine Hampton, 1997 Thornton/Northern Illinois
Napoleon Harris, 1997 Thornton/Northwestern
Rodney Harrison, 1991 Marian Catholic/Western Illinois
Tim Jamison, 2004 Thornton/Michigan
Terrell Owens, 1992 Russell (Ala.)/Tennessee-Chattanooga
Antwaan Randle El, 1997 Thornton/Indiana
Curtis Randle El, 1996 Thornton/Indiana
Tai Streets, 1995 Thornton/Michigan
Earnest Sutton, 1985 Bremen/Illinois Benedictine
Sammy Williams, 1994 Thornton/Oklahoma
Ryan Yarborough, 1989 Rich East/Wyoming
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Updated: January 23, 2012 2:11AM
The cast of characters pretty much remains the same for the McLegends roster.
Antwaan Randle El, Rodney Harrison, Napoleon Harris, Tai Streets and Kenyea Beach, among others, will be suited up for Saturday’s McLegends X at Thornton.
The notable exception could be T.O., as in Terrell Owens. The six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver wants to participate, but likely will be a game-day decision. Owens is rehabbing from knee surgery earlier this year.
T.O. or no T.O., the talent on the McLegends roster still is more than capable of extending its winning streak to six against the High School All-Stars.
Of the 17 players on the McLegends roster, 12 boast NFL playing experience.
“Are you kidding? Absolutely we can and we will win this game,” said Rich East graduate Ryan Yarborough, who played four years in the NFL. “We haven’t even practiced yet, but our experience will kick in.”
It’s unlikely the McLegends will practice. Some of the players reside in other states and will not fly in to town until Friday night.
That’s fine by McLegends coach LaMarr Thomas, a 1966 Thornton High School graduate.
“There’s not much I can tell them,” said Thomas, who will be assisted by Thornton greats Lloyd Batts and Barry Gardner. “The McLegends are some of the best athletes in the world. It really is something for all of these very accomplished athletes with significant career achievements to come back and participate in this. I don’t think it’s going to matter all that much if we don’t get to practice. It’s just an honor for me to be associated with this event.”
Thomas, regarded as one of the best athletes in school history, remains active in the Thornton community, primarily through the Thornton Alumni Legacy Fund, composed mainly of alums who try to raise additional funds for the school.
“It’s primarily guys from the ’60s,” Thomas said. “For all of us, we had such a memorable experience at Thornton and it’s so meaningful to us.
“There have been a lot of (financial) cutbacks. We try to raise funds so current and future students can experience what we had: a rich academic and athletic experience at Thornton.”
One of the fund’s goals is acknowledging the school’s past while encouraging its future.
When it comes to Thornton’s past, few accomplished what Thomas did at the Harvey school. He helped Thornton’s basketball team go 30-2 in the 1965-66 season when the Wildcats won the state title. He helped Thornton’s football team to an undefeated season in 1965.
A halfback, Thomas attended Michigan State, but a knee injury ended his football career.
“We were very fortunate that all of the elements seemed to come together for us that year at Thornton,” Thomas said. “But when those things do come together, you have to take advantage of them when they do.”
Thornton’s boys basketball program has finished third three times and second twice but hasn’t been able to claim the big prize since Thomas’ 1966 team.
“I never would have believed it, it’s almost unfathomable,” Thomas said of the hoops title drought. “If the boundaries wouldn’t have changed, with Quinn (Buckner) going to Thornridge, we would have won a couple of more state titles.
“Even with that, I still can’t believe with all of the great players that have come out of Thornton there hasn’t been another state title. But you can have all the talent, but everything still has to come together.”