Red Shannon was the youngest member of the 2009-10 varsity football team at McKinney High School. His raw talent matched that of his teammates, but his size didn’t.
A pre-pubescent freshman, Red weighed in at 120 pounds and was a boy amongst men. Every day in practice, the young cornerback matched up against senior McKinney High legend, speedy wide-out Matt Lipka, who is now a star baseball prospect for the Atlanta Braves.
“Going against Matt, one of the best receivers in the state of Texas, wasn’t too good at all,” Red said. “I used to always get beat down the field in practice, pushed around and bullied. But it made me better; it kind of helped me cause I knew what it took to beat the best and outdo the best. So that motivated me to get bigger, faster and smarter on the field.”
Two years later, Red, a junior, has emerged as a leader on the football field.
“My coaches gave me a leadership role because I’m one of their go-to guys,” Red said. “I’ve been on the varsity longer than anyone my age, and I know what it takes to win games.”
Not only has his experience factored into his leadership role, but also Red’s work ethic has propelled him to his elite on-the-field status.
“I train with my dad after practice; we work on quick footwork and my hands,” Red said. “It usually lasts a couple of hours. My dad’s the most influential person to me in terms of sports; he’s always been there for me and he’s taught me to be the athlete I am right now.”
Red’s family genes run thick with athletic prowess. His father is a sports hall of fame inductee at East High School in Des Moines, Iowa, and his cousin, Davarious Thompson, was a crucial aspect of the McKinney High’s offense a year ago.
“I realized that I excelled in athletics pretty early. When I was a little kid, I would go against my older cousins and beat them a lot,” Red said, “so I knew I could be a good athlete compared to people my age. “
Three games into this season, Red has led the Lions in scoring with five touchdowns- four of which have come from inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. In other words, Red’s domain is within the red-zone. Thtat’s where he hopes to operate again Thursday, Sept. 22, as the Lions (0-3) look for their first win against Wylie at Ron Poe Stadium.
“Red has been a primary target for me in the red-zone,” junior quarterback Robert Somborn said. ”He has a knack for finding holes in the opposing defense, getting open, and making the catch whenever he needs to. He’s a great athlete.”
In addition to football, Red lettered in basketball and track his freshman year.
“It takes a lot of time to be a three-sport athlete; you have to eat right, make sure you get a lot of sleep, and always hit the weights,” Red said. “I lift Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday up at the school, and make sure I get a lot of reps in. If you don’t, you’ll be skinny and won’t have the endurance to make it through a season of basketball, football or track.”
The starting point guard for the basketball team, Red translated his hard work and leadership skills onto the court as well.
“When I play point guard, I have to be an extension of the coaches on the court,” Red said. “[I have] to know all of the plays, and make sure all of the plays run perfectly to win the game.”
Red also has to be very disciplined with his schoolwork.
“A lot of sacrifices are made so that I can play sports- one of which is school,” Red said. “Balancing class work with playing time is so overwhelming. You have to have a good mindset about it though- you can’t procrastinate because you already spent so much time on the field working at practice, missing most of the day, that when you get home you cant waste any time with things other than school work.”
However, for Red, the cons of playing sports should negate themselves; his hard work could potentially pay off in the end.
“I devote myself to the time requirements of sports because I know I can make it in the next level- and maybe even the pros,” Red said. “I believe I have what it takes, all I need now is to play well enough to get a scholarship.”
Story by Quinn Murray, TSB contributor