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Watch now: From trampolines to Friday nights, Arcola's senior-freshman duo shines through the air

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Arcola's Beau Edwards and Tanner Thomas

Arcola quarterback Beau Edwards, left, and wide receiver Tanner Thomas connected for two touchdowns in Friday's win over Tri-County

ARCOLA — The game was never in question.

Arcola cruised to a 49-13 Lincoln Prairie Conference home win over Tri-County on Friday, and the connection Purple Riders quarterback Beau Edwards and wide receiver Tanner Thomas share was on full display.

It's a connection that Thomas, a freshman, and Edwards, a senior, haven't had much time to build on Friday nights due to their age difference, but it's one that's still been years in the making.

"I've actually known him for a while," Edwards said. "We were friends back in grade school, actually, and we've stayed in touch since then. We've always played basketball together just for fun, and we've thrown the football on the trampoline together, too."

After an 0-2 start, Edwards and Thomas proved that they're capable of being much more than a childhood trampoline duo in Arcola's first victory of the season. The senior and freshman connected on 15- and 49-yard touchdowns in the first and second quarters, respectively, before their third 47-yard score was called back at the halftime buzzer. Thomas was flagged for offensive pass interference, negating the last-second, highlight-reel play.

"I didn't push off," Thomas said, laughing.

Even without that reception, Thomas still finished with three catches and a game-high 102 receiving yards. He credited a lot of his success to Edwards, who's helped him learn the playbook since making the jump straight from eighth grade to varsity.

"That's the most difficult part," Thomas said. "Every single play for the first two weeks (of the season) I've turned around and asked Beau or coach (Nick) Lindsey about the plays like, 'What do I do here? What do I do there? Do I need to block or do I need to run?' That's the toughest part by far, but once you start learning that, it gets a lot easier and a lot more fun."

Edwards had a strong performance, too, completing five of 10 passes for 123 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. The senior also returned a punt 51 yards for a score in the first quarter and made up for his second-quarter pick by intercepting Tri-County senior quarterback Jack Armstrong on the ensuing drive.

Lindsey said he's proud of the way Edwards has developed at quarterback early on in the season, especially considering that he used to be a receiver and made the switch "out of necessity" for the team.

"He's really taking ownership of the position and being a leader," Lindsey said. "We tossed around the idea of him staying at wide receiver and having somebody else play quarterback, but the biggest thing with Beau is that he's a competitor and he's a winner, and I love having that at quarterback."

The "somebody else" Lindsey referred to almost turned out to be Thomas, who is also at a new position. The freshman grew up playing quarterback before sliding over to receiver. In fact, Lindsey said Thomas and Edwards were the two front-runners to be the Purple Riders' QB1 this season before Lindsey ultimately decided to go with the more experienced player.

With Edwards under center, Thomas has shined on the outside.

"(Thomas is) far and away our fastest, most athletic kid, so we knew we had to find a place for him and just getting the ball in his hands and letting him be as dynamic as he is, that's something we're going to rely on," Lindsey said. "We're decent up front (on the offensive line) at times, so we've gotta find that dynamic guy on the edge, and I think Tanner can be that guy."

Thomas and Edwards will take their aerial connection on the road Friday when Arcola (1-2, 1-0) plays at undefeated conference foe Cumberland.

"We just have to capitalize on what happened (against Tri-County), fix the little mistakes that we had and go out there and perform as (best) as we can," Edwards said.


Follow James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid

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