Excitement that has been swelling around the area has started migrating south.
Twelve local athletes from five different sports were announced on rosters for the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s All-Star Sports Week, which begins today in Montgomery.
Alexandria baseball player Dalton Cobb and soccer players Virginia Poe (Jacksonville), Edward Turner (Oxford) and Josiah McDaniel (Faith Christian) will get things started, competing in their respective events today.
Randolph County’s Elijah McFarland is the only local basketball player that will take the floor at Alabama State’s Acadome on Wednesday. Jacksonville volleyball player Blessing Dunn and a host of football players close out the week Thursday.
Players taking the field at Cramton Bowl include Piedmont graduates Exavyer Jackson and Denard Spears, Wellborn graduates Jaleel Burton and Chantz Goodman, Chris Briskey (Clay Central), Deandre Wills (Clay Central) and John Wes Adcock (Woodland).
Athletes chosen for soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball and softball are rising seniors, while football players are recent graduates that are given one final chance to either land a scholarship for a college team or have a larger team show interest.
“For Chantz and Jaleel, who have been such big parts of our program for so many years, I’m more excited for them than I am for myself,” said Wellborn head coach Jeff Smith, who will be the offensive coordinator for the North team. “I sure want to see them play one more time. I can’t wait to see them play again.”
All-Star Sports Week puts camps and practices on hold for a week to focus on athletes that were talented enough to be chosen for the North-South games. It’s also created a large amount of excitement for all who are fortunate enough to take place in the festivities.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Smith said. “I hate to leave our team for a week, but I feel good about our team right now. We had a good spring and a good summer with our 7-on-7s, and we’ve got good assistant coaches that can take care of everything for a week. That part, I feel good about.
“On the other hand, I can’t wait to work with the other coaches I’ll be working with and work with those other boys that have finished up playing and get to play one more time. I know that if it was me and I had one more chance to play, I sure would be excited about it.”
For players, there are several ways to treat the game.
While there’s undoubtedly a competitive nature to each game, pinning North vs. South, Dunn said she’s just looking to have fun.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I’m just excited to get all the best athletes down there and together in one gym. It should be a lot of fun.”
The opportunity to play in the all-star games gives athletes a chance to meet top talent from around the state. For Dunn, she plays on Team Sting with South player Kelsea Bivins.
Poe, who plays club soccer with BUSA, said three or four of her teammates will also be playing in today’s match. However, it’s the players that Poe isn’t familiar with that she’s most looking forward to see play.
“I didn’t get to see some of the schools that these girls play for because we didn’t get to play against them, so I’m excited to see what their level is, along with the talent level around the state,” she said. “Like, Randolph is a top team in the state and we haven’t gotten to see them, so now we’ll get to see some players off that team.”
This week's schedule
Riverwalk Stadium, 4 p.m.
Dalton Cobb (Alexandria)
Emory Folmer YMCA Soccer Complex, 5 and 7 p.m.
Virginia Poe (Jacksonville), Josiah McDaniel (Faith), Edward Turner (Oxford)
Alabama State Acadome, 8 p.m.
Elijah McFarland (Randolph County)
Faulkner University, 4 p.m.
Blessing Dunn (Jacksonville)
Cramton Bowl, 7 p.m.
Exavyer Jackson (Piedmont), Jaleel Burton (Wellborn), Chantz Goodman (Wellborn), Denard Spears (Piedmont), Chris Briskey (Clay Central), John Wes Adcock (Woodland), Deandre Wills (Clay Central)