1 last time to straP IN

Published 12:01 am Saturday, July 19, 2014

0719 spt-Michael McCalman
2 from Andy, 3 from SHS with 1 coach to participate in game

Five local athletes will take to the gridiron one last time on Thursday for the 2014 North-South All-Star Football Game at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.

Andalusia’s Montel Lee and Michael McCalman; and Straughn’s Devin Scott, Dalton Watson and Conner Livings will play in the senior-only game on the South squad, which kicks off at 7 p.m.

While all five players will get some final playing time, Straughn head football coach Trent Taylor will serve as the South squad’s head coach.

The collective consensus from each is that they are pretty “excited” about the game.

“I’m pumped and real excited,” McCalman, the former AHS quarterback said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Players report tomorrow afternoon between 1-2 and will start practicing later in the afternoon. The squads also practice twice each day from Monday through Wednesday in the lead up to Thursday’s game.

Livings, along with Watson, played on Straughn’s stout offensive line the past two seasons. He said it’s a great opportunity just to play the game one more time and under coach Taylor.

“When I found out that I was going to get to play, I was honored and then when I figured out that coach Taylor was going to coach, I was even more honored,” Livings said.

In fact, Livings said he was walking down the hallway at SHS one day in late May and Taylor asked if he had the chance to play in the All-Star game, would he play?

“He (Taylor) told me that you may want to start getting in shape,” Livings quipped.
For Lee, the Andalusia linebacker, getting the chance to play in the game is a “humbling” experience.

“I’ve always wanted to play in the Champions Challenge (but I haven’t),” Lee said. “This is one of my dreams coming true, and I get to play in it with my best friend (McCalman).”

Andalusia finished its 2013 campaign in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs. Straughn finished in the Class 3A state semifinals for the second year in a row.

Watson said this game will be another opportunity to end his playing career on a winning note.

“It didn’t end how we wanted it to, and this gives us one more chance to win,” Watson said.

Scott, who will more than likely play at running back, said he’s looking forward to the game.

“It’s going to be a big experience,” Scott said. “This is the first time I’ve done something like this.”

While playing under Taylor is nothing new for Watson, Livings and Scott, McCalman and Lee both said they’re anxious to see what they can learn under the SHS coach.
“I’m excited to play under him,” McCalman said.

Lee said he can always learn something he can take with him to Ferrum College, where he is playing football in the fall.

“He led his team to the fourth round two years in a row,” Lee said. “You’re never too young to learn something.”

Taylor said it’s an honor to join a coaching staff that includes Fairhope’s Adam Winegarden; Bayside Academy’s Phil Lanzenby; Demopolis’ and former AHS coach Tom Causey; Trinity’s Randy Ragsdale; Tallassee’s Mike Battles; Elmore County’s Norman Dean; and Alabama Christian’s Michael Summers.

“I’m excited,” Taylor said. “I don’t think any state does a better job than ours, as far as promoting our athletes in all sports. So, anytime you can be selected to be a part of that is a great honor. I’m not unlike any high school coach; that there’s a lot of things to be done at home. With that said, it’s going to be a fun week. I look forward to being around the guys on the staff. It’s a great group of guys.”

Other local athletes playing during the All-Star week include Straughn’s Katelyn Kinsaul and Jacie Williamson in basketball; and Opp’s Tori Reisnour in softball.