Senior Spotlight Series: Gage Vernon, wide receiver for the Altus Bulldogs


By Ryan Lewis - ryan@altustimes.com



Altus High School tight end Gage Vernon fell in love with football after buying into the brotherhood. He plays for his family, including sister Faith Barnett (left), his teammates, his coaches and the Altus community.


Courtesy photo

Starting tight end Gage Vernon’s value as a member of the Altus Bulldog football team cannot be measured in catches or yards, but instead in the threat that he poses should Jake Vargas drop back to pass or his ability to block downfield when one of Altus’ many running backs breaks free and needs some help to keep the play going.

His only catch of the season, so far, came on a 21-yard pass from Kobi Gomez against Western Heights. Vernon broke free and Gomez found him nearly wide open behind the Jets’ defensive backs. The catch didn’t go for a touchdown, but it gave the Bulldogs’ yet another first down and put the Bulldogs within 29 yards of pay dirt.

Coach Todd Vargas said Vernon is always at the ready and has practiced and played as hard as anybody on the team to put himself into the position that he is in.

“Gage is a great young man who loves the brotherhood,” Vargas said. “I have never seen a player work himself into a playing position like Gage. From his freshman year until now, his development has been nothing short of amazing. Every opportunity he has now is because he has earned it. Gage is a true example of what it means to be an Altus Bulldog and I am so proud of everything he has accomplished in life.”

When called on, Vernon can be as reliable as any other Altus player on the field and he possesses the size, strength and speed necessary to do his job well.

However, if not for the “brotherhood,” Vernon said a football career at Altus High School might have never happened for him.

“I joined the team as a freshman…” Vernon said, “and I really didn’t enjoy football at first. But I fell in love with the culture and the brotherhood that the coaches brought in. I really bought in to what the coaches had been telling me and worked my butt off to reach my goals.”

Vernon decided to continue playing. If he wasn’t learning how to dominate an opponent on the field, he was learning about how to be a better man.

Belonging to the Bulldog brotherhood requires sacrifice. The players on the team become a family and bonds are built that will last a lifetime. Vernon said building those bonds has been his favorite experience as a Bulldog.

“All the relationships and friendships I’ve built…” Vernon said. “those have been a big part of my love for football and why I’ve stayed. I’ve been most excited about getting the chance to play one final season with my brothers.”

Vernon experienced something that few have when the Bulldogs won the Class 5A State Championship in 2015. He said that winning state or the Senior Retreat at Camp Benway have been two memories he will never forget.

Although it has been nearly two years since the team last won state, Vernon said he believes that as long as the team plays like it can, the possibilities are endless.

“When it comes to this group of guys…” Vernon said, “I believe the sky is the limit. When the year is over, the one thing I will miss most about my time at Altus High School is this brotherhood.”

Joining the brotherhood and learning what it means to play football for the Altus community is all part of the journey for Bulldog football players.

In his time on the team, Vernon said he has learned a lot from the teammates, his coaches and all of the team’s fans, but for Vernon, it always comes back to the boys who line up beside him on the sidelines to watch the action.

“I’ve learned what it means to care more for the brother next to me than myself,” Vernon said. “Coach [Todd] Vargas is always telling us, ‘love isn’t a feeling, it’s an action,’ and that’s what it means to play for the brotherhood.”

While Vernon plays for his teammates, coaches and community, he also said that his brother has pushed him to succeed and given him a reason to play every snap like it’s his last.

After graduation, Vernon intends to either attend the Air Force Academy or Oklahoma State University.

Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.

Altus High School tight end Gage Vernon fell in love with football after buying into the brotherhood. He plays for his family, including sister Faith Barnett (left), his teammates, his coaches and the Altus community.
http://www.altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_GageVer.jpgAltus High School tight end Gage Vernon fell in love with football after buying into the brotherhood. He plays for his family, including sister Faith Barnett (left), his teammates, his coaches and the Altus community. Courtesy photo

By Ryan Lewis

ryan@altustimes.com

Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.

Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.

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