It came as no surprise that Boonville seniors Avian Thomas and Josh Polk were selected to the Missouri Football Coaches Association All-State Football Team for the 2019 season.
After all, Thomas led the Pirates in rushing with over 1,800 yards while Polk finished the season with over 100 tackles.
Thomas was selected as a first team running back in Class 3 while Polk was a third team selection at linebacker.
Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough, who coached both Thomas and Polk the last-two years, said both players were very deserving to be recognized as all-state players.
“Team success is very vital in post season individual honors and recently we have had more and more kids honored,” Hough said. “I think that’s a team accomplishment over an individual honor. We had three kids nominated for all-state this year and Tramell (Coleman) came up a few votes short at defensive back. I truly believe he is one of the best players in the state with Avian and Josh. Both Avian and Josh were great pieces of the puzzle. Those guys put in extra time, reps, effort and made sacrifices for their coaches and teammates. Those qualities and actions will be remembered more than any stat.
“Statistically and based on honors both guys are arguably some of the best football players in the past decade. Avian is two-time all state, while Josh is all-conference in NCMC and Tri-County. Those honors show the amount of respect coaches and opponents have for them. We will miss Avian and Josh along with the other 15 seniors, but we have guys hungry to fill their roles, continue team success and earn the same honors and opportunities like Josh and Avian.”
While finishing his career with over 4,600 yards and 60 touchdowns, Thomas had perhaps his best season in a Boonville Pirate uniform in 2019 while rushing for 1,846 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also had 13 receptions for 191 yards and two scores along with two kick off returns for touchdowns and one interception for a touchdown.
Thomas also finished the season with over eight 100-yard games and had two 300 yard games while breaking the school record for rushing yards in a single game with 371 against Versailles. He also had five touchdowns in that game.
Thomas said he is happy with being a first team all-state player.
“Being that I had worked so hard in the off season, I knew I was well deserving of this honor,” Thomas said.
In addition to being a two-time all-stater at running back, Thomas was also a two-time all-conference selection and a two-time all-district pick for the Pirates.
As for one of the highlights of his career, Thomas said it was hosting and winning a district playoff game for the first time. “That game was an amazing experience for the team,” Thomas said. “That night was very special to me as well because I stepped up in the postseason and was the rock my team could lean on.”
Thomas also felt the game against Oak Grove was probably his best game of the season. In that game, Thomas rushed for 300 yards and three touchdowns and also hauled in two receptions for 91 yards and one score.
Boonville also won the game against Oak Grove 47-26.
With Hallsville being his biggest rivalry in high school because their head coach is Boonville football coach Greg Hough’s best friend, Thomas said the thing that he will miss the most about playing football for the Pirates is that platform that he was given.
“I plan on coming back in five years with a degree to show the young black kids that they can do what I did and even be better,” Thomas said. “To show them that someone like them made it out and they can do the same.”
As for Polk, he said he was really shocked and excited to make all-state.
“My dad and my brother were both all-state so when I found out through a text from coach I was really pumped,” Polk said. “I didn’t really expect it sonce we didn’t go very far in the district. There’s also a lot of great players at linebacker and that’s a tough one to get, so knowing I hang in there with some of the best players in the state is great.”
Like Thomas, Polk also had a great career for the Pirates while finishing with 295 total tackles with 30 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, four fumble recoveries, three interceptions.
This past season, Polk had 116 total tackles with 14 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception and one blocked punt.
A three-year starter at linebacker, Polk was also a three-time all-conference selection, a two-time all-district pick and one time to the all-state team. Polk  was also selected to the KMZU Dream Team this past season.
As for the highlight of his career, Polk said it was the team bonding experience he had this past summer and spending all day with the guys, waking up at 5 a.m. and just being around each other all day long. “It was that as well as going to the 7 on 7s and South Dakota with my teammates,” Polk said.
As far as individual highlight, he said it was his senior year against Hallsville. He said the Pirates lost the game but he felt like he was on fire. “I was inside the box and I was just playing hard with my heart on my sleeve just going at it,” Polk said.
As for his best game, Polk said it was probably the Eldon game this past season just because it was a classic and it was cold, mud bowl on a grass field.
“I was playing a position where I was having to get up in the box and hit somebody every play,” Polk said. “It was just one of those games of grit, old school football and I loved it.”
Polk also listed himself as his biggest rivalry. He said if he played bad he knew he had to play up to his potential and reach that so he was constantly trying to improve himself in practice.
Polk also had many influences in his life when it came to football. He said his dad and brother were probably the two biggest influences.
“They kind of taught me the game as I grew up,” Polk said. “I would play outside in my front yard every day with my brother and the neighborhood kids and they would beat the hell out of my honestly. My dad kind of taught me the game and he was my first-ever coach and coached me for a while.”
Polk also had a love for the game matched by no other. When asked what he loved the most about playing football, he said it was the team aspect of being able to bond and getting together for a common goal. “Knowing that I could look to my left and look to my right and guys that I could trust,” Polk said. “We were going to war and it meant something to win and hurt when you lost.”
As far as what he will miss the most about playing football at Boonville, Polk said it’s the atmosphere.
“It’s a great town,” Polk said. “One of the best things about Boonville is we had the tradition of the drumline and that’s kind of you are locked in and that drum starts going. The band teacher does a great job and that’s when I get in my zone and I am going to miss walking down that hill holding hands with the guy next to me and running out there and kicking butt.”
Polk is still undecided on his future. He said he recently got nominated to West Point so if all goes well he will try to play football there. If not, he said he will go play Division II football and do national guard somewhere in Missouri.