A Class to Remember: FB Marshall seniors won't get shot at third-straight UIL State Track crown
It was one of the first words out of the mouth of Fort Bend Marshall men's track & field coach Lloyd Banks on Friday afternoon. Just minutes before the call, Banks had seen his team's season ended.
Not because of a dropped baton. Not because of an injury. But because of COVID-19.
"We were all on hold," Banks said. "Every announcement that the UIL dropped we were just hoping and praying that they were going to find a way for us to finish up. It stings because you want to see your kids go out and compete."
In less than a month, Banks was anticipating to be standing on the track of Mike A. Myers Stadium in the heart of Austin watching his 4x100-meter relay - which held the fastest time in the country at 40.40 - and the 4x200-meter relay team - which had the second-fastest time in the nation at 1:24.91 - race for immortality.
"I've told the boys all the time, this is arguably the greatest and most consistent sprint group of all time," Banks said. "When the lights came on in 2018, the catalyst of the group was three sophomores. They won a state championship."
At the end of the night it was his hope to win the program's third-straight Class 5A State Championship. It would have been the the fifth state title for the program in six years.
"No doubt," Banks said when asked if they could have won again in 2020. "That was the conversation. We all wanted to break the national record in the 4x100-meter relay but it was always 'let's try to get another ring'. That was always the goal. They would sacrifice an individual race here or there, all they cared about was winning the state championship. I love them for that.
"It was a selfless group, all they wanted to do was see each other shine and they were very competitive."
Instead, Banks has started his goodbyes to the Class of 2020.
It is a group that leaves with two track state titles and a pair of appearances in state championship football games.
"My hat goes off to the class of 2020," Banks said. "They did a great job. Proud of them. It's going to hurt to see them go."
In the Fort Bend Marshall community, the 2020 group has had to live up to the legend of the 2015 group.
That group - which included current Atlanta Falcon Kendall Sheffield, Arizona State receiver Jeremy Smith, University of Houston standouts Amere Lattin and Gerald Mills - finished as runner-ups in 2013 and 2014 but then capped their careers with a state title in 2015, which started the current run Fort Bend Marshall is on.
"I never thought I'd see a class like that again," Banks said. "But 2020 most definitely rose to the occasion. They did their thing, I'm proud of them."
Looking at this group of seniors it includes guys that will be talked about for a long time because of what they did on the track and football field.
Devon Achane is heading to Texas A&M to play football and run track, Bryson Stubblefield - who ran during the indoor season but hadn't competed outdoors yet - is heading to TCU, Malik Hornsby is going to Arkansas, Sylvester LaBome is going to Lane College and Avery Helm is heading to Florida
So, where does the Class of 2020 rank all time?
"They have to be No. 1," Banks said with a chuckle. "Just have to be No. 1. They had to stay hungry. They had to manage themselves physically, because football season is a long one and track is also. They had the wherewithal and they had to shine when the lights came on.
"They did just that."