MACON — Noxubee County High School junior Maliek Stallings already knows the price of admission when he later attends a family reunion.
“He will have to have a state championship ring to get in,” cousin Timorrius Conner said. “He really needs to have two, but we will let him slide with one. Winning one of those is when we will take him into the family.”
Conner jokes about the demands being placed on the ultra-talented 16-year-old. However, in this family, winning football championships is serious business.
Stallings will begin his second season as the varsity starter at quarterback for Noxubee County High when the season opens tonight against Starkville in Macon. Meanwhile, Conner is in the mix to start his sophomore season at quarterback for East Mississippi Community College.
It all started when cousin Omarr Conner re-wrote the Noxubee County High record book at quarterback from 1999-2002. Omarr went on to play quarterback at Mississippi State.
Tremarcus Conner — an older brother to Timorrius and cousin to Omarr Conner and Stallings –quarterbacked Noxubee County High from 2005-08 and EMCC from 2010-11.
After the Noxubee County-Starkville game goes into the books, Stallings won’t need to go far into his phone to see how he played.
“I hear it from all three of them,” Stallings said. “It’s nothing but love, but trust me, I hear it from all three of them.”
Tremarcus works in the Macon area and plans to make all the Noxubee County High games this season. Timorrius will attend games around his EMCC schedule. Omarr is an assistant coach at Hinds Community College. His team will face Timorrius later in the season in Scooba.
“It makes my heart swell with joy when I get to see (Timorrius and Stallings) play,” Tremarcus said. “It means the world to me. Both of them have so much more potential than I had. Omarr wanted me to be better than him. I want both of them to be better than me. You want the best for the ones who follow you. I live and die on every pass. It’s special.”
Right up the road
Timorrius and Stallings “live right up the road” from one another. A brief walk up that road usually leads to studying film, tossing the football in the yard, or, more importantly, finding a reassuring voice.
“I am here for everything he needs,” Timorrius said. “We watch film together. We talk about routes. We talk about reading protections. If he doesn’t want to talk about the game or his team, we talk about life. He just knows he has someone who loves him and will always be here for him.
“He won’t admit it, but his heart skips a beat when I am in attendance at a game. He wants to impress me. That means a lot to me.”
A pep talk from a family member can be a game-changer.
“It means the world to me,” Stallings said. “There is so much love. When I need advice, Timorrius always has my back. We have a special bond. It has been that way my whole life.”
That is the kind of support the whole family provides.
“Watching highlights on the weekend just gives me chills,” Omarr said. “To see them make a big play is a great feeling. I love to watch their leadership. Quarterback is the most important position on the field. I love watching (Timorrius and Maliek) leading their guys.”
Tremarcus knows the position, too. With a little age on the younger two, he stresses the big picture.
“I just try to help them with life lessons,” Tremarcus said. “Both of them have the greatest opportunity possible. … (EMCC) coach (Buddy) Stephens always said, ‘Strive for Greatness.’ That motto has always stuck with me. Even after football, whether you are a husband, brother, father, worker, wherever, there is no reason why you shouldn’t aim for greatness.”
Tremarcus won Noxubee County High’s first Mississippi High School Activities Association state championship in 2008. He also was a quarterback and receiver on EMCC’s first national championship team in 2011. Timorrius was in uniform for the Tigers’ state championship in 2012 and started at quarterback for the state title teams in 2014 and 2015.
Even though he didn’t win a title, Omarr is still the godfather.
“Omarr was the best,” Tremarcus said. “When we get together, we all talk about living up to him. He passed the torch down to each of us. Our job was to keep it burning.”
Most high school juniors already have a busy schedule. Stallings has a torch to keep burning, state championship rings to win, and some family reunions to attend.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.
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