Football in the south is woven in the fabric of families as much as love of country and respect for your elders.
When families get the chance to pass down great traditions, it is an honor. So it was with two local football icons when they got to watch their sons play with the jersey number most associated with the family name.
Dr. Tommy Banks (WMHS Class of 1997) and Jeremy Many (WMHS Class of 1995) were a big part of the beginning of the Rebel football dynasty in the early 1990s.
Now both of them watched as sons Tag Banks (Good Hope) and Mase Many (West Ridge) bore No. 45 and and No. 56 respectively.
“It was not something we requested,” Tommy said. “Everyone just kind of expected it because that is our number through the years. The coaches just gave that to him.”
Jeremy Many, who is defensive line coach at West Monroe now, and who played defensive line and offensive line at WMHS while helping the team win its first 5A state title in 1993, also said that people knew at West Ridge what his number was.
“I have a lot of connections at West Ridge (former head coach),” Jeremy said. “We didn’t have to say anything. They knew. There was one year he didn’t get to wear it but he didn’t make any fuss over it.”
Both of the fathers said they were very proud to be able to watch their sons play the game they love and carry on the tradition.
“It makes me very proud,” Tommy said. “Tag didn’t play a lot of football until recently. He played baseball, basketball and soccer. He loves football now. It has been awesome to watch. He always had the talent, now getting all the fundamentals and he is playing offense and defense (because of some injuries Good Hope had). The coaches have done a good job of teaching fundamentals.”
“It is a great honor to wear the number,” Tag said. “My dad was a great player and it is a great way to honor him.”
In addition to Tommy, Tag’s uncles Mark and Brandon also wore the No. 45 at WMHS.
“I was blessed with good genes,” Tag said. “I have gotten more confidence playing the game. When I got the chance to also play defense, it has been an amazing experience.”
Jeremy says his No. 56 has its origins in growing up idolizing NFL defensive greats such as New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor and the New Orleans Saints’ classic “Dome Patrol” led by Pat Swilling.
Neither Tommy or Jeremy has pushed the game of football on their children. It has been an organic love of the game that has led both of them to grow closer to them.
“I am careful not to push my profession on my boys,” Jeremy said. “I don’t engage in conversation a whole lot after a game like ‘you should have done this’ kind of stuff. I won’t do that. I am telling them great job and let him start the conversation and then help him with what he wants to work on”
“(Jeremy) taught me the game is fun,” Mase said. “He has taught me not to get down on myself and just go out and do things to the best of my ability.”
One neat thing the two current generation players have noticed is how exciting the future of Rebel football is when the great players of Good Hope, West Ridge and Riser come together as Rebels in the years to come.
“Good Hope and Riser have amazing teams and players,” Mase said. “I can’t imagine how good we can be together.”
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