By David Wheeler with Lisa Voyles
The victory on the scoreboard was claimed by the East squad 10-7 in double overtime over the West, but the real winner could be one of the 70 players who might pick up a chance at playing on the college level because of this game.
“The thing I like best is that it gives these kids another opportunity,” said Booneville’s Mike Mattox, who was the East head coach. “And some took advantage of it tonight.”
Four players from Houston High School, one from Vardaman High School and one from East Webster High School all used the opportunity to hit the high school gridiron on more time.
Houston coach, William Cook, said he liked the effort he saw from his departing seniors and others in the region.
“I’m proud of all players that were selected for the game,” Cook said. “They worked hard and played a great game. I’m most proud to hear other coaches talk about our young men’s work ethic, manners and character on top of their athletic performance. That’s the type of student-athletes we are working on producing with our program.”
Emmitt Dendy, Quon Brand, Chris Thornton and Kenrick Maxwell all represented Houston High School in the game.
From Vardaman, Donta Walker made the trip to the All-Star game, along with VHS coach Justin Hollis, who assisted from the sideline and had nothing but words of praise for his player.
“Donta has been a phenomenal player for us for four years,” Hollis said. “He will be greatly missed as a person and player.”
Doug Wilson of EWHS also had positive comments about Austin Cunningham who joined the West All Stars.
“Austin had a great game,” wilson said. “He represented us well at defensive end. It was a great game.”
From a pure football stand point, the East needed a fourth-quarter touchdown to send the contest into extra play.
Corinth’s Brady Allen completed two key passes on a 75-yard drive for the East, beginning with a 36-yard effort to West Oktibbeha’s Von Smith.
Then with 3 minutes, 16 seconds to play, Allen hooked up with Chandler Dexter from Tishomingo County for a 15-yard score.
“I was just looking for mismatches out there,” said Allen, who has committed to Itawamba Community College. “This was a great experience, and great for the kids who don’t have a place to go yet.”
The East attempted a 48-yard field goal on the final play of regulation, but Eric Lemus from West Point missed just to the left.
In the first overtime, both teams tossed interceptions on their first plays from scrimmage.
The East had the ball first in the second extra frame, with Josh Kugel from Caledonia hitting a 33-yard kick for the lead.
The West eventually lined up for a 26-yard kick to tie, but the snap was high, and the attempt was blocked.
“For the first-ever game, I think it was a success,” said New Albany’s Ron Price, the West head coach. “I’m just disappointed we couldn’t finish drives.”
The West scored its TD in the second quarter on a 15-yard pass from Bruce’s Davis Brown to Oxford’s Toler Presley.