By KEVIN WEAKS
Obion County’s three all-stars didn’t need a full week to get accustomed to their new surroundings.
Union City’s Keylon Hyde and Khiry Lewis, along with South Fulton’s J.P. Fowler, were quick studies under South Gibson County head coach Scott Stidham in preparation for the inaugural Sport Plus West Tennessee All-Star Football Game, held Saturday afternoon at Liberty Tech in Jackson.
Stidham acknowledged the ability all three locals to come in, pick up the system and then put it to use on Saturday.
The three played for the North stars, who suffered a 27-0 loss to the South squad.
All three local players saw plenty of action in the game, a testament, Stidham said, to their football smarts.
Hyde and Lewis, who formed a strong tandem of inside power and outside speed for the Golden Tornadoes this past season, split time at tailback when the North lined up in the I-formation and then went to the slots in the team’s spread look.
“Those two can play,” Stidham said of the UC duo. “My hat’s off to them because they had a tough schedule this week with basketball and a long road trip down here. They had to miss a couple of practices, and we understood that, but they didn’t miss a beat. They were right here in the middle of everything. Those two can play. They’re both naturally talented, but they also very easy to coach and picked up things really well.”
Fowler, meanwhile, was the free safety for the North and played the majority of defensive snaps.
“He can play,” Stidham said. “From the first day, he picked everything up so quickly. He was our free safety and got everybody else into coverage. He’d be an outstanding coach, if that’s what he wanted to do.”
Along with Jacob Warbritton of Huntingdon, Hyde and Lewis led the North in rushing.
Hyde carried eight times for 31 yards, tying Warbritton in carries and two yards behind the Class 1A Mr. Football Back of the Year finalist in total rushing yards.
Lewis, meanwhile, had the North team’s longest play from scrimmage with a 30-yard run late in the game.
“You get the ball in their hands, and they can do some damage,” Stidham said. “They weren’t used to this system, and they picked up very well. We moved people around. We had a lot of players who can do things with the ball in their hands, but they really stood out in practice, so we wanted to get the ball to them.”
The North team struggled offensively, however, gaining 123 yards on 35 rushing attempts and completing just 3-of-16 passes for 49 yards with a pair of interceptions.
The North, meanwhile, produced a balanced attack with 319 total yards on 53 plays — 154 yards rushing on 35 carries divided among seven backs and 165 yards passing with three quarterbacks hitting on 7-of-18 throws.
Courtney Bush of Liberty led the South’s rushing attack with 61 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, while Adam Craig from Northside hit on 4-of-7 passes for 109 yards. Jordan Lambert of Hardin County had three catches for 69 yards and a score.
The South led 14-0 after one period and 24-0 at the half. After a scoreless third frame, the South added another field goal in the fourth.
Thanks to Lewis’ 30-yard run, the North got inside the South’s five-yard line but was then stopped on four plays.
“It was a blast,” Stidham said. “I got to meet several coaches and get to know them. We would love to have won, but just to experience this with a lot of outstanding kids and coaches was a lot of fun.”
One thing that Fowler said to Stidham epitomized the Hornet coach’s experience.
“Just to show what kind of kid he is, he came up to me and said, ‘I enjoyed you coaching me this week.’ Those are the things you remember from a game like this,” Stidham said.
Published in The Messenger 12.10.12