Seeing Alex Coffield, Samari Rack and Ethan Thompson sign their names to college scholarship papers on National Signing Day Wednesday made Henry County High School football coach James Counce Jr. proud in more ways than those involving football.
Coffield announced he will be attending college and playing at the University of the South at Sewanee with Thompson accepting an offer from Murray State University and Rack going to nearby Bethel University in McKenzie. Coffield played middle linebacker with Rack seeing action at tight end and outside linebacker. Thompson rewrote the Patriots’ record book as a wide receiver while also making contributions on defense in the secondary and as a kick returner.
“These three guys are perfect examples of the things we tell our players each and every day about how important it is to do things right on and off the field. These guys have been great role models for our younger players because of the way they carry themselves, the way they interact off the field and on the academic side. Football comes last in importance but they’ve been great contributors to our team there, too,” said Counce.
He said it had been a true privilege for him and the rest of the Patriot coaching staff to have had the chance to build relationships and work with Coffield, Rack and Thompson.
“Having had the chance to spend all the time we have over the last three years with these guys has made all of us better,” Counce said.
Henry County battled to a 13-2 record in 2018 that included a Region 7-5A championship. The Patriots advanced to the Class 5A state championship game where they lost a 14-9 decision to Knoxville Central.
Counce said he believes a few more Patriots will be joining college programs in the next few weeks.
Here is a look at each of the Patriots that signed on Wednesday and their comments.
Coffield is the son of Jill and Jay Coker and Jason and Becky Coffield, all of Paris.
He has been named to the All-Region 7-5A team after each of the last three seasons and named the region’s Linebacker of the Year this season. He was chosen for the All-USA All-State team.
His 87 tackles over the 15-game schedule was tops on the Patriot defense. He had 20 tackles for losses and 2.5 quarterback sacks.
“Football has taught me discipline, work ethic and respect,” Coffield said. “It has shaped me into the strong person I am today. Henry County will always be my home and I thank everyone in this great community for their dedication and love. Go Big Red.”
Rack is the son of Recy and Melvin Rack of Paris. His father was also a defensive standout for the Patriots.
This season, Rack turned in 64 tackles from his outside linebacker position. He had 14.5 tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks. He forced two fumbles and recovered three this season.
Rack was named the Region 7-5A Defensive Most Valuable Player this year after being chosen as the region’s top defensive lineman last year. He is a three-year All-Region selection and made both the Tennessee Sports Writers and Tennessee Football Coaches Association All-State teams this year. He also has made the All-State All-Academic team.
He plans to study biology with an emphasis in physical therapy.
“They have taught me to be a better person and the young man that I am today. They have taught me how to be on time and about being prepared,” Rack said about the lessons he has learned from the Patriot coaching staff.
Thompson is the son of Christy and Reggie Thompson of Paris. The elder Thompson also starred at HCHS and played football at Murray State.
Ethan Thompson rewrote the HCHS record book for pass receivers. He established new career records for receptions with 91, pass receiving yardage with 1,905 and touchdown receptions with 19.
He tied the school mark for catches in a game with seven against Haywood County this year while setting another mark for receiving yardage in a game with 212 against Clarksville Kenwood. His 12 touchdown catches this season is a record and he became the school’s first receiver to go over 1,000 receiving yards in a 10-game regular season with 1,031 yards this season.
An All-State selection by the Tennessee Football Coaches Association, Thompson was named the region’s Receiver of the Year. He made All-State All-Academic and has been a three-time All-Region pick. Locally he received the Lions Club’s Most Outstanding Player honor.
He plans to study either aerospace engineering or computer science at Murray State. He also talked about the Patriot coaching staff and the way they molded the squad into a family.
“They have made an impact on my life by forming a bond with everyone,” Thompson said. “That has helped create great memories. They shaped me by teaching us to do our best on everything and to never take a day for granted and to win every day. They’ve allowed me to lead people in the right direction and to get closer to one another. The great people around me have made me more coachable and closer to God, which is most important. The people of the Henry County family know that once a Patriot, always a Patriot! Go Big Red!”