If Pike Road fans were looking for any of their players on the Alabama All-Star Sports Week rosters in July, they wouldn’t take a second glance at the football roster.
The annual all-star sports week, set for July 16-18 in Montgomery, includes players who just completed their junior year of eligibility except in football, which features graduated seniors. The Patriots did not have a senior class in 2018 but the program’s head coach, Patrick Browning, will coach in the game as the South’s offensive coordinator.
“I guess the tipping point was being the first (area) school with no seniors in our first year with a varsity squad to make the playoffs,” Browning said. “I guess they saw that as a big deal. But it’s an honor. Any time you get selected to be in a game like that, it’s a privilege.”
The game will reunite Browning with his former boss, Dadeville head coach Richard White, who will serve as the head coach for the South squad in the July 18 game at Cramton Bowl.
The event will mark the first time since 2016 that no Capital City Conference players were selected to play in the game. Last year, five players represented three different CCC schools. St. James safety Collin Duncan, as an alternate in the Alabama vs. Mississippi Game, was an automatic selection to All-Star Sports Week but the Mississippi State signee will be in Starkville getting a jump on his collegiate career.
Jeff Davis tailback Jacquez Allen is the only local player on the all-star football roster and is joined by two Wetumpka players, two Prattville players and Browning, a coach selected from a first-year program that football fans in the state know little about.
“The deal with us is I think we were an unknown last year,” Browning said. “I think people anticipated we would struggle a little more than we did. Making the playoffs was such a big deal. It was a big impact around the state. I don’t think we’re anywhere near where we want to be from a recognition standpoint, but it helped a lot of people to take notice of what we’re doing and I think the expectations are higher across the board.
“It’s a good thing getting to participate in the all-star game. We’re wanting to eventually become an established program where everybody sees us as a state power, but that’s just going to take some time. So the more exposure we can get for our program and our kids and our town, the better.”