All-Star Week has local participants
MONTGOMERY — Every year the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) hosts a week in July that is dedicated to the best athletes in all sports that varsity programs across the state have to offer.
Every major sport played at the high school level in Alabama is represented in this week, known as All-Star Sports Week.
Games are played across the city of Montgomery, where the AHSAA main office is located.
This year five people from Franklin County participated in the All-Star week. Red Bay head football coach John Ritter was an assistant coach on the North All-Stars football team. He had a hand in coaching Tyler Boyd and Bud Coleman of Russellville as well as one of his own former players, Matt Belue, at the historic Cramton Bowl.
“It was really fun,” Ritter said. “We had 38 all-stars from the north representing their individual schools, and some of them were the best individual players from their school.
“It was fun to coach kids that I didn’t know. I got to know them and the other coaches on the staff.”
Boyd and Coleman made a mark on the Golden Tigers’ football team during their time in Russellville.
Boyd was known for burning past defenders for multiple yards per carry, and Coleman posed problems for opposing teams on both sides of the ball.
When he was not backing up Boyd at running back, Coleman was hitting ball carriers from the other team as a linebacker.
Boyd netted 16 yards on eight carries in the North’s 22-21 defeat at the hands of the South All-Stars.
The South’s victory may ring a little hollow, as the North scored 21-consecutive points in the first quarter and held that lead until late in the game.
Coleman had seven tackles total, including three solo. This put him tied for third on the team in that category.
“It’s very exciting to see those guys get out there and play with the best players in the state,” said Russellville head football coach Michael Jackson.
“Both of those guys are getting ready to go to college, so it’s a good measuring stick for them.
“It promotes our program, and it lets young guys know that if you work hard, do things right and get better than you may have opportunities to do things like that.
“Both did well in the game. Bud played outside linebacker and Tyler played receiver and running back. Both performed well and had some good plays.”
Belue’s main position during his time with the Red Bay Tigers was that of a fullback on offense. However, it was a role on defense that the recent graduate filled for the North-South football game.
“Matt started out at tight end in the first two days of practice, but then we had a couple of guys get hurt on the defensive line, so he actually moved to fill one of those positions the rest of the week,” Ritter said.
“He played on the D-line during the game, and he really impressed the other coaches on our staff with his work ethic and ability to be a multi-positional player.
“It was great to get to coach him one last time.”
Belue had five total tackles during the game, including three solos and one for a 10-yard loss, the biggest loss on a tackle during the game for either side.
Now that the all-star game is finished, both coaches must focus on filling in the gaps left by the departures of these three outstanding seniors.
“Some young guys are going to have to step up and take leadership roles,” Jackson said.
“The players have to keep working to get better, and they have been working hard all summer. I’m sure we will have some guys step in and fill those roles.”
“Our team will be really senior heavy,” Ritter said.
“Five out of the seven that will play up front are seniors. We’ve got strong skills guys that are very talented.
“They are short on game experience, but they have the ability to break some long runs and score.
“We should be able to throw and catch the football a little bit better than we could last year.”
Kasey Sparks, the starting center for the Red Bay Lady Tigers girls’ varsity basketball team, also participated in All-Star Sports Week.
She played with the best talent to be had in girls’ basketball in the state in that of the North squad.
This was reflected by the final score of 84-36 in the North’s favor at the Acadome in Montgomery.
Sparks played for 17 minutes of the game and picked up two points. She also had one offensive and two defensive rebounds as well as one block during the contest.