Writing school

After rewriting school books, Christian Heritage’s Locke and Thomas sign to play college football | local sports

Solomon Locke and Christian Thomas may be leaving Christian Heritage School to play college football, but their notes on the program will always be in the record books.

The senior duo signed in a school ceremony on Wednesday — Locke with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Thomas with Berry College — after setting records at Christian Heritage.

Thomas has the school record in “basically any quarterback stat,” Christian Heritage head coach Jay Poag said. Locke, who stands out both ways, is the school record holder in tackles as well as rushing yards in a game and career.

Locke joins the Division I Football Championship Subdivision program at UTC, just a 30-minute drive off I-75 from Dalton, while Thomas is bound for Division III Berry, about an hour from Dalton in Mount Berry, near Rome.

“They’re close enough that we can go watch them play on Saturdays,” Poag said.

Locke, who joined the Mocs on offers from Division I FCS Stetson and a few smaller schools, said proximity to home was a deciding factor between UTC and Stetson, which is in DeLand, Fla.

“I’m very excited. The campus is amazing and the coaches are great,” said Locke, who received an offer from UTC on Jan. 24. I used to like Stetson too, but (UTC) is closer to home. I can go home and watch my brother (Christian Heritage junior Jeffson Locke) play. All in all, it was just a better choice and a better opportunity for me.”

Locke becomes the second player in Christian Heritage history to sign with a Division I school. Evan Lester signed with Georgia Southern last year.

Locke projects himself as a running back at UTC, but Poag said that could change when he arrives on campus.

“They’re so excited to have him,” Poag said. “They’re going to throw him in the running backs’ room, but the defensive coaches want him too.”

“I just want to play. I love football,” Locke said. “If playing defensively gets me on the pitch, I will, and if it’s attacking, I’ll play attacking. Whatever the team needs me to do.”

Thomas is a longtime quarterback – he started taking private quarterbacking lessons from Poag in 2013 before Poag took over as coach from Christian Heritage – but could also play in the defensive field of Berry.

“They don’t talk about how he throws it or runs it, they talk about him as a winner. I think that’s what Berry saw in him,” Poag said. “They might have a quarterback, but what they call it is a football player. They’ll figure it all out when he comes to campus.”

Thomas said he’ll play wherever Berry’s coaches want to place him, but he thinks he can compete at quarterback.

“I want to play my part,” Thomas said. “I’m a team player. If they want me in defense, I’ll play in defense. But I have full confidence in myself and I want to play in my position.”

Berry was another late offer for Thomas – he picked up on January 13.

“I had a few Division II offers and a few places that wanted me to walk,” Thomas said. “Love the facilities and it’s only an hour away.”

Thomas credits his quarterbacks coach at Christian Heritage, Brandon Poag, with sparking his interest in the college. Poag, the son of Jay Poag and a 2017 Christian Heritage graduate, played quarterback at Berry.

“He would tell me about it,” Thomas said. “I was waiting to see if they would offer me.”