The East All-Stars had it all their way Wednesday night at Jamieson Stadium as they clobbered the West 34-9 in the 64th Annual North Carolina Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game. Quarterback Ja'Quil Capel of West Montgomery stole the show as he ran for 64 yards and scored
four touchdowns in the blowout win.
"We just recruited guys that can run the wing t," said East coach Jimmy Fletcher, an Avery County native, who coached at West Brunswick last fall. "That's primarily what a lot of teams run in eastern North Carolina. Our coaches did a great job recruiting character players. It was a great win. Anytime you can coach in an all-star game, you never know what kind of players or coaches you're going to get. But we had a good mesh."
The East ran for 231 yards; running back Shaheed Swinson of Kinston (which was a state runner up in Class 2AA last fall) paced the running game with 79 yards on eight carries.
"When I was named head coach for this game (last summer), I said I wanted to run the wing t," Fletcher said. "And it worked to our advantage, but it was a big night for the mountains as well. A lot of times, people forget about the mountain kids. They think they're too slow, whatever. It was great to see (Avery coach) Darrell (Brewer) down here and Alex (Villanueva). It was just a special night for the mountains and Avery County."
Villanueva, who will walk on at Appalachian State University in the fall, and Alex Fox of Watauga High represented the High Country. And both men were also asked to play out of position. Fox, a linebacker, played cornerback; Villanueva, a quarterback, was forced to move to safety. They combined for six stops. Fox made two tackles; Villanueva made four.
"I could have taken guys that were faster than those guys (Fox, villanueva and Michael Styles of Mitchell), and stronger than those guys." Brewer said. "Fox and Styles were completely out of position. But I'll tell you something about these mountain kids, they made the proper adjustments. You tell them one time and they do it right. They're well coached and they've got heart. The coaches down here were amazed."
The West also hurt itself when it had two touchdowns called back because of penalty on the same possession in the second quarter. The West also turned the ball over on down in the fourth quarter inside the five-yard-line.
"Having those two touchdowns called back within 15 seconds really broke our momentum," Villanueva said. "It really hurt us. We were prepared for them, but they also hurt us with a couple of trick plays, they ran the ball hard, and they just flat our beat us."
"We told these guys all week, turnovers and big plays were going to decide this game," Brewer said. "And those two touchdowns we had called back. It was huge. It's just a big play game, and we were on the short end."
For Fox, Wednesday's all-star game was probably his final game. But the former Pioneer isn't giving up hope of possibly playing at the next level. But for now, Fox will attend UNC-Wilmington in the fall as a college student.
"I looking to major in chemistry and business right now, but that could change," he said. "But I'd love to get a chance to play college football. And if someone called me and asked me to walk on, it depends on what they tell me and how much time I have to decide. I'm just keeping my options open.
"But I really enjoyed playing in this game. I made a lot of new friends, I was just glad to strap it on one more time. A lot of people don't get to play in this game. I'm honored and I'm thankful God gave me the talent to play in this game."
Swinson was named the game's Offensive Most Valuable Player and linebacker Terry CaLdwell of Wilmington-Hoggard was named the game's Defensive Most Valuable Player. Wednesday's win by the East also snapped the West's two-game winning streak. The East has won four of the last six meetings, but the West still leads the all-time series 37-26-1.