Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
Norcross' Myles Autry (5) pushes past Lovejoy's Tyrell Brown (1) and El Malik Roberson El (13) for a touchdown during the second half of Saturday's Class AAAAAA state championship game.
ATLANTA -- Norcross' Myles Autry knew his role would be limited in Saturday's Class AAAAAA state championship game.
The injured receiver/running back played sparingly for the first three quarters as a decoy.
Autry finally got the big play he wanted in the fourth quarter of Norcross' 21-14 victory over Lovejoy at the Georgia Dome.
Autry, who injured his knee in last week's semifinal win, caught an 11-yard touchdown pass with 7:17 left in the game. The score helped spark Norcross' fourth-quarter comeback.
"I had to suck it up," Autry said of the limited playing time. "Coaches told me to be patient and when they need me they'll put me in."
Autry tore his MCL, ACL and meniscus against Colquitt County and did not practice this week. His left knee was in a brace and heavily tapped for Saturday's game. Autry played just 15 plays all game. He was only thrown the ball twice -- his 11-yard TD catch and a 10-yard reception on Norcross' next drive.
"That hurt us a little bit not being able to use him," Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. "I don't want to ruin his career. A state championship is not worth ruining a kid's future with what he's gone through."
Autry is one of the state's top recruited juniors. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Autry has offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Florida State, among others. His older brother Anthony is a freshman receiver at Tech.
"It was tough, but I had to sit there and cheer my team on until my time was called," Autry said.
Autry will have surgery on his knee the week of Christmas. A member of the Blue Devils' basketball team, he does not plan to play this season.
"I'm not going to play this year. I'll definitely still be on the basketball team on the bench, cheering my team on," Autry said. "I'm still on the basketball team, I just won't play."
Autry was one of the county's most exciting players to watch this season, leading the team in receiving with 43 catches for 611 with nine touchdowns. He was also the team's second-leading rusher with 560 yards and six TDs and had four punt returns for scores.
Autry's play making ability allowed Norcross to use him as a decoy for the first three quarters of Saturday's game.
"I told coach if you put me in to be a decoy, I'll do it. Anything for this team to win," Autry said.
Once Norcross got in the red zone, Autry was loosely covered by the Lovejoy defense and the Blue Devils capitalized. Joseph Wilber threw an 11-yard score to start Norcross' fourth-quarter comeback.
"I told him I wanted it and I felt it," Autry said. "I caught the ball and did what I had to do."
Autry is part of a talented junior class returning for the Blue Devils. Norcross has four offensive linemen coming back and three receivers, but will have to replace Wilber at QB and running back Alvin Kamara.
The defense is junior-laden with lineman Lorenzo Carter, linebackers Kevin Mouhon and Jaquan Frazier and safeties Jordan Noil and Brandon Garner coming back.
"Most of the team right now is juniors," Autry said. "We're going to come back tough next year."
It took Norcross more than 50 years to win a football state championship, but the Blue Devils could be back in the Dome next December.
"I'm going to worry about that later," Maloof said. "Right now I'm going to worry about this one. We'll worry about that next week in our coaches meeting."