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Patriots seniors compete in All-Star game

Pike Liberal Arts School was represented well in the 2009 AISA All-Star football game Thursday in Prattville, as five players took part in the game.

Seniors Tanner Grant, Trey Walters, Will Starling, Daniel Powell and Justin McLaughlin all traveled to Prattville for the game, and all five had a positive experience.

“It really means a lot, especially it being my senior season,” Starling said. “It was just a great chance to play another game in my senior season.”

For others, the game was a reward for a season of hard work.

“It’s a great honor being in the all-star game,” Grant said. “I feel like I accomplished something in my senior season.”

Grant accomplished even more during the game, as his play was good enough to earn him the Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman award for the East team.

“It was pretty great to get the award,” Grant said. “It’s something I worked hard for all year, and it finally paid off with something like that.”

Walters, meanwhile, said the game was a great example of competition.

“It’s just a good feeling being chosen for the game and having another chance to play,” Walters said. “It’s good to get out there and compete against better than average players like ourselves.”

All five of the Patriots played on the East team, which defeated the West team 33-27.

The high-scoring affair was a product of the talent on the field, the players said.

“When you get that many athletes on one field, it’s going to be high-scoring, no matter how good the defense is,” Walters said. “We both had great athletes. They threw the ball good and we had trouble sometimes, but I feel like our defense played pretty well.”

The speed of the athletes on the field was also impressive.

“The whole game speed was faster than a regular game because everybody out there was so good, so it took a little while to get used to,” Grant said.

While the All-Star game gave the players a chance to play one more game of football on a high level, it also gave them a few more days of practice.

For the players from PLAS, those practices provided them with the rare opportunity to match up against one another.

Grant and Starling played on the offensive side of the ball, while Walters, Powell and McLaughlin played defense.

“I hit them a couple times during practice,” Powell said of his teammates. “I was trying to get them real good, but it never just came about.”

The experience also gave the five a chance to play under a handpicked group of all-star coaches.

“It was fun being up under other coaches, and learning new offenses and seeing what they were like,” Starling said.

Powell agreed with Starling’s assessment of the coaching talent.

“I like Coach (Steven) Kilcrease a lot, but it was also good to get to know the other coaches up there.”

Kilcrease, the head coach of the Patriots was one of the coaches for the East defense, meaning that Walters, Powell and McLaughlin had one final opportunity to play under their own head coach.

“This whole year’s been great, but having that one more game playing for Coach Kilcrease was just a real good feeling,” Walters said.

McLaughlin was unavailable for comment due to his participation in the Patriots’ varsity basketball game against Covenant Christian Academy Friday in Panama City.

However, he too, represented PLAS well, as he brought home the Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman award for the East team.