HIGH POINT — An hour before gametime of the East-West All-Star football game at Simeon Stadium, West captain Logan Stoodley was out on field before any of his teammates
It was his last organized football game for a while. Stoodley, a West Rowan linebacker who committed to Limestone, won’t have a team to play for until the program’s first season in 2014. Therefore, the eye-black was heavily applied and the warm-up music on his ipod was as loud as possible.
Stoodley wasn’t lost on the nuances of the game, nor the week of practice and camaraderie leading up to it. He savored the build-up to this one a little more. It wasn’t one of the state championship games he’s played in but it still carried meaning.
That’s why the West players stormed the end zone in a joyous celebration when Tyriek Able intercepted the ball on a hail mary to preserve the 14-7 win.
Morganton Freedom’s David Burgess had a 79-yard touchdown with 5:13 remaining to break a 7-7 tie that would hold for the final.
“It’s been great bonding with the team,” said Stoodley, wearing the same No. 51 he sported at West Rowan. “We came together in like a week. Usually you don’t bond that fast but we really have.”
Stoodley was in on eight tackles in Wednesday’s All-Star exhibition to cap a year where he was the Rowan County Defensive Player of the Year. His four solo and four assisted wrap-ups were second-highest on the West squad.
“It was a real energetic game,” Stoodley said. “We have a great team, as do they.”
The last time Rowan players went to Simeon Stadium was Salisbury’s dramatic win against High Point Andrews in the 2012 playoffs. There was no such greatness this time, but a trio of players capped a memorable week among the best in the state. The team congregated last week and experienced two-a-day practices at Western Guilford.
“This coaching staff was amazing,” said offensive lineman Brandon Hansen, Stoodley’s teammate from West.
Hansen, 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, was a starter on the offensive line, filling in at guard. Hansen will go to Western Carolina to major in civil engineering. He’s considering walking on to the team if it works out.
“I love football,” Hansen said. “But if ain’t there, it ain’t there.”
East Rowan grad T.J. Jefferson, was a noseguard and made his presence felt at 6-2 and 335 pounds. Jefferson has known Stoodley since their freshman year so playing his final prep game beside a pair of impact guys from Rowan felt right. Jefferson reports to camp at Livingstone August 12. He was an all-county selection as East’s defense anchored it’s return to competitive football in an 8-5 season last year.
“I think we’re going to go good over there,” Jefferson said. “Hopefully we can turn around the program like we did at East.”
The West squad struggled out of the gate with three penalties on its first possession and missed a pair of field goal attempts to stay off the scoreboard in the first half. East led 7-0 at halftime. West got on the board with a 19-yard touchdown run from Burgess, the offensive MVP.
East’s Jarod Richardson was Defensive MVP with 11 tackles and four for loss.
NOTE: In 65 years of East-West games, it was the first not played at Greensboro Grimsley’s Jameson Stadium.