High school football is back! Okay, so not officially, but this Saturday, June 25th, three from Rutherford County will participate in the All-American Bowl.
The bowl is a chance for kids to be scouted by college and professional football teams in the battle of the Stars vs. Stripes this weekend in Kings Mountain at John Gamble Stadium. Kids from as far north as West Virginia to as far south as Georgia will take part in the event.
R-S Central’s Darrien Watkins and Thomas Jefferson’s Will Beam, who just graduated high school will play for the Stripes side of the field. Watkins played cornerback and wide receiver for the Hilltoppers, while Beam threw for more than 2,800 yards last season as the Gryphons quarterback.
Chase head football coach Daniel Bailey will also take part in the event as a coach for the Stripes.
While we are on the subject of Chase football, they have a kid who is among the top rated players in the state --Carlos Watkins.
Watkins (6-4, 285) enters his senior year in Trojan country with four main candidates in Clemson, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina, who are very interested in him as a defensive tackle. Although, Watkins can play both sides of the ball, his presence to find the football first by using his strength and leverage has certainly created intrigue among some of the nation’s top college football teams. Watkins isn’t a terrible basketball player either, but at least 18 Division I schools want Watkins for football.
Of course, Jonathan Bullard over at Crest is among one the state’s top talents as a defensive end. All four top choice schools that are interested in Watkins are going after Bullard as well.
However, it is less than two months before the first high school football games of the season take place in the county.
In local baseball news, Rutherford County’s Post 423 legion baseball team is back in action this week and hopes to make a push for better positioning in the upcoming playoffs. They have five straight days of games this week. For the final three, they host Taylorsville on Thursday night at R-S Central (7 p.m.), play at McNair Field on Friday against Caldwell County(7 p.m.) and then go to Shelby for a 2 p.m. meeting on Saturday to close out the regular season.
As Post 423 Coach Sammy Hooper told me earlier this season, “We go as Danny Fraga goes.” There is no doubt that Fraga, from Polk County is the ignition switch, whether he is on the mound, playing shortstop or up at the plate. About this time last year, Rutherford County won 10 of 11 postseason games, granting them a shot to vie for a state title. They won one of three games at state and fell short of the title.
And for the Sprint Cup Series, they head to Sonoma for the first road course race of the season. While there are 10 turns, only two distinct corners are perfect spots to pass (turns 5 and 9), which makes starting up front a huge deal this weekend.
Marcos Ambrose, who stalled the car under yellow and lost on that move while dominating the event one year ago, likely is the favorite for this weekend.