As soon as running back Thomas Tyner returned from the U.S. Army All-American football game in San Antonio, he sought out Aloha (Ore.) High School teammate and friend Brayden Kearsley.
His message? Man, I missed your blocking.
In the All-American game, Tyner played with some the nation’s top talent – and best recruits for the 2013 class – on the West squad.
But it was not the same without Kearsley.
Though the players are heading their separate ways for college – Tyler to the University of Oregon and Kearsley to Brigham Young University – they are taking with them a lasting bond.
“It would have been fun blocking for him at the next level,” said Kearsley, who played in the Semper Fi All-American game in Carson, Calif. “I know our friendship will continue as we play at the next level.”
Tyner, a consensus top-10 running back recruit nationally, set Oregon’s high school single-season rushing record last year with 3,415 yards. He scored 43 touchdowns.
For all the records he set, Tyner is quick to credit Kearsley, who led the charge by opening holes.
“I was lucky to run behind Brayden and the other linemen at Aloha,” Tyner said. “Brayden is fast to react and tough to get around. I wouldn’t have been successful this season without him and the guys.”
Kearsley is not a forgotten man around Aloha. A three-year starter on the offensive line, he’s a big, athletic blocker who steamrolls anybody in his path.
Just ask West Salem High School coach Shawn Stanley, whose team eliminated Aloha from last season’s Oregon state playoffs.
“Kearsley was one of the best block finishers I’ve seen,” Stanley said. “He plays with a mean streak out there it was a double-edged sword having to figure out ways of stopping those two (Tyner and Kearsley). Film doesn’t show how good they were.”
The two made quite a combination, teaming up for one historic night in September.
Against Lakeridge High School, Tyner rushed for 643 yards and 10 touchdowns – both single-game state records.
“Thomas made it rewarding for an offensive lineman because he got to the line so quickly,” Kearsley said. “Sometimes it was kind of hard because he got to the end zone so quickly, it made it hard to celebrate with him.”
That game made Tyner an overnight internet sensation – articles and videos of some of his long touchdown runs were posted everywhere. But for all the publicity, Tyner gave credit to the guys who paved the way.
“I am lucky to have had the opportunity to run behind (Brayden) and the other linemen,” Tyner said. “They are great people and good friends.”Kevin Manning: 253-597-8680