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Four Mavs sign to play college football

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | May 15, 2024 2:30 AM

MOSES LAKE — The gymnasium at Moses Lake High School was crowded Monday afternoon, as numerous fellow players, coaches, friends and family gathered to watch Maverick seniors Caleb Jones, Hayden Throneberry, Joel Middleton and Kyson Thomas sign on to play college football.

“It’s like a dream come true,” Thomas said. 

Both Throneberry and Middleton will be playing at Whitworth University, while Jones is going off to play at Pacific Northwest Christian College. Thomas will be playing at Washington State University.

“It’s really nice to know that we’re sending off our players to great programs,” Moses Lake football head coach Brett Jay said. 

Throneberry, who intercepted 11 passes during his high school career, said he’ll be playing safety with the Pirates, while Middleton said he’ll be playing wide receiver — both Throneberry and Middleton played wide receiver and defensive back during their time with the Mavericks.

“They’re a winning program, so I want to be a part of that,” Throneberry said. “Also the experience of playing on a higher level with a bunch of other people that want to compete as well. Getting that experience of playing at the college level, I think that’ll be fun.”

Moses Lake had two players sign with Whitworth in 2023; offensive lineman David Araiza and kicker Iden Bone.

“It seemed like a great school, a great opportunity,” said Middleton, who caught 52 passes for 827 yards and 15 touchdowns this past season. “Going with (Throneberry) made it even easier to go there. We’re rooming together, so it’s going to be a fun experience.”

Jones will head down to Tri-Cities to play with Pacific Northwest Christian College, who are coached by Bill Templeton — Jay’s head coach from when he was in high school. Jones played receiver at Moses Lake and caught three passes for 93 yards and a touchdown in the team’s final game of the year.

“It feels really good,” Jones said of the excitement of the signing day. “I’m already starting to practice over there, having a fun time already. The guys are really nice, they’re very welcoming.”

Thomas – Moses Lake’s leader in receiving yards (1,068), receptions (69) and receiving touchdowns (20) during the 2023 season — will play in Pullman for the Washington State Cougars. The senior said he would be playing receiver again.

“I’m excited to restart,” Thomas said. “To restart and get to compete all over again. Hopefully, have the same outcome I did in high school, and keep going.”

Jay spoke highly of the quartet of Maverick football players.

“To know that this group committed no matter what we put on the calendar, they were going to be there with great effort and great attitude,” Jay said. “This is the least we can do, is help them find a college home and have a celebration like this. I’m real proud.”

Seeing past players sign was a motivating factor for Throneberry, he said.

“Seeing my past friends from a couple years ago signing, I’m like, ‘Dang, I really want to do that too,’” Throneberry said. “I want to be a part of a college and signing and everything. It was a struggle because at first, I didn’t know if I wanted to play football still, but after I went to a visit to WSU — non-football (visit) — I thought, ‘I don’t want to hang up the cleats yet.’”

Thomas, Middleton, Throneberry and Jones all leave behind big shoes to fill for future Moses Lake players.

“They got a front-row seat, they got to watch them do it every day,” Jay said. “We coached those guys hard — give them a hug when they do it right, and tell them the second they do it wrong. That’s what’s nice about our program; no one has to wonder what anyone’s thinking. There’s a standard, and these guys are the standard.”

Whitworth opens the 2024 season on the road against Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter, Minn., on Sept. 7. PNWCC begins the year at Eastern Oregon University on Aug. 31, and WSU gets started on the same day at home against Portland State.

“I’m just excited to see where the future takes us and what it holds,” Middleton said. “There’s big stuff coming up.”

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com.

    Four Moses Lake football players signed on to play college football on Monday; seniors Joel Middleton, front row right, and Hayden Throneberry, front row left, signed to play at Whitworth University. Senior Caleb Jones, front row center left, is heading to Pacific Northwest Christian College, and senior Kyson Thomas, front row center right, will play at Washington State University.