The Valdosta Daily Times
Georgia high school football has been over since state champions were crowned in the Georgia Dome the weekend of Dec. 13-14, but some of the seniors will get one last chance to impress college scouts tonight at 8 p.m. in the annual War of the Border between Georgia and Florida at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
Three War of the Border games are held after each season to give high school players one more chance to catch the eye of a scout and earn a scholarship.
The first of the three War of the Border games of 2014 will be held tonight at 8 p.m. at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. Rance Gillespie of the Valdosta Wildcats will coach the Georgia All-Stars while Oakleaf High School's Derek Chipoletti will coach the Florida All-Stars.
"It's a lot of fun for us to get out here and work with these kids," said Gillespie. "For a lot of them, it's their last opportunity to play organized football. It gives them the opportunity to be in front of a recruiter one more time, and they'll all have an opportunity to end their career as an all-star, and that's pretty special."
Nine of Gillespie's Valdosta High School players will participate in the all-star game, including: Special Teams Player of the Year, Mac Loudermilk, wide receiver Alex Cason, running backs Nelson Herring and Malcom Joseph, and defensive linemen Darrius Sapp and Adrian Scott.
Offensive tackle Ricky Small and cornerbacks Brandon Erving and Demarcus Rhym will also represent graduating Wildcats.
Aside from his own players, Gillespie will be coaching 11 players from the cross-town rival Lowndes Vikings as well.
Wide receiver Mark Carron, offensive lineman Curtis Hargett, tight end Christian Parker, and running backs Arvin Berry and Jerome Daniels come from Lowndes' offense, while defensive backs Chris Hill and Eric Hart, and defensive linemen A.J. Harper, Dante Robinson, Jeff Phillips, and Zack Copeland represent the Vikings' powerful defense.
Linebacker Reggie Robinson and offensive lineman Marvin Dobson will give the Valwood Valiants two players in the all-star game as well.
While players from the city of Valdosta comprise much of the Georgia All-Stars roster, many players from other local area teams will see playing time tonight as well.
Kenny Lashore, James Core, and Sam Henderson played for the Clinch Panthers this season and Raheem Coxfield, Mikal Moore, and Tyler Gibbs hail from Cook.
Lanier County also has two players, Zares Kimbrough and Bobby Davis, joining in on the War of the Border fun.
Atkinson County, Berrien, Coffee, Crisp County, Irwin County, Peach County, Tift Area, Turner County, and Ware County will all have at least one player on the field this evening.
Payton Dixon, a quarterback from Thomasville, will also play tonight despite getting his wisdom teeth pulled earlier this week.
With a roster of 50 kids from 16 different schools all looking to show something on the field, coaching the War of the Border All-Star Game presents a different obstacle than normal, regular season games.
"With the limited time you have the kids, you're not going to spend a lot of time on fundamentals and the little things that win football games for you," said Gillespie. "You're going to try to get a bunch of good players together, teach them some schemes, try to coordinate a few things, get them to work some timing issues out, and then you go play the game. That makes it a lot of fun for the kids."
Tickets will be sold at the gate at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, $10 for adults and $5 for students. The game will be played in 15 minute quarters.
Game two of the War of the Border will be held at Tom White Field in Mack Tharpe Stadium in Moultrie on Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. John Reid will coach the Georgia All-Stars against the Mike Coe led Florida All-Stars.
The final installment of the 2014 War of the Border is scheduled for Feb. 15 at Charlton High School Stadium in Folkston.
Richard McWhorter will lead the Georgia team against Matty Lee and the Florida All-Stars.