Wars and football games are often won in the trenches. On Saturday night, the same was true at the fourth annual Southeast Texas Ford Dealers All-Star Classic, as the offensive and defensive lines stole the show in a run-heavy affair.
The West team of all-stars from around the area beat the East 22-14 and did it mostly by running the Barbers Hill offense under West head coach Ronnie Gage. That offense featured three running backs, including West MVP and Offensive Player of the Game Tre Cooper of Coldspring and East Chambers’ Glen Roberts.
More telling, though, was that the East team saw both of its postgame awards go to linemen. Nederland’s Koby Couron was named team MVP and Defensive Player of the Game while Port Neches-Groves left tackle Justin Reasons was named Offensive Player of the Game.
“Offensive line never gets anything, so I’m real excited that Reasons got that,” Couron, who signed to play football for Lamar, said. “This was a little bit different. We didn’t play a lot of technique, we were just shooting gaps and stunting a lot. I got a little tired, but I got over it.”
Couron and his defense may have been on the losing side, but it was not for a lack of effort. The big defensive end had two tackles for losses on running plays in the backfield and disrupted countless other plays with his quickness.
“I’ve been working hard with (Nederland offensive line coach Jae) Stoker,” Couron said. “I want to thank him for all the hard work he’s put in with me. I was quicker than lots of the guys out there. I’d also like to thank coach (Reed Lowrance) and coach (Larry) Neumann. I’m going to miss playing for them next year, but I’m ready to move on to bigger and better things.”
Reasons, meanwhile, anchored the East’s offensive line, much as he did for the Indians last season. He also blocked for Central’s Robert Mitchell, who played quarterback most of the time for the East.
Mitchell rushed for 90 yards on 14 carries, completing four of 10 passes for 35 yards with an interception. He also broke a 42-yard run in the first quarter for the game’s first touchdown.
“It was exciting and tiring as it should be,” Reasons, who signed to play for Stephen F. Austin, said. “I just played hard, showed out and did what I was supposed to do as an offensive lineman. I stood out. The season went how it went, so this was a good way to end high school football. I’m excited for college football. I leave in about a month and I’m excited for that.”
Roberts and the West, though, ran and ran and ran to run out the clock on their victory. But, it was a razzle-dazzle pass play that gave them the lead for good in the third quarter.
On the first play of the second half, the West quarterback Alfred Scott of Coldspring handed it off to Cooper, who was running a sweep outside. Cooper then tossed it to a receiver for a reverse, who then tossed it back to Scott, setting up the double-reverse pass, as Scott found Cooper all alone down the field on a 56-yard TD that made it 12-8 West.
Roberts put the West in position to take the lead with his own touchdown on a 2-yard run in the second quarter. The East Chambers runner, who’s heading to Tarleton State, finished with 18 carries for 47 yards and three catches for 41 yards.
“It felt good, I just wanted the score and was just thinking ‘end zone,’” Roberts said. “The first couple of plays, I was a little nervous, but I found my groove and played like I know I can play. I had gotten a knee injury in my last high school game, so I wanted to see how it felt being on the field one last time before I went off to college. It felt pretty good.”
After the West tacked on a field goal in the third quarter to make it 15-8, Vidor’s Montana Quirante again pulled double-duty, replacing Mitchell as the East team QB and leading his squad on a touchdown drive.
Quirante ran the ball five times and scored an 8-yard TD in the fourth quarter to make it 15-14. That drive was set up by a 40-yard kickoff return by Central’s Trent Samuels and a late hit after the return ended, but it was Quirante who capped things off one last time.
“It was an honor playing with all these other great players from this area and forming a new brotherhood with people outside your community,” Quirante said. “I love playing both quarterback and linebacker and I’m just glad they let me do both.”
The Vidor product finished with six carries for 40 yards, also running in a two-point conversion after Mitchell’s long TD run.
Nederland’s Zach Taylor and Port Arthur Memorial’s Walter Oliver and Greg Johnson each had a pair of tackles while former Bulldog receiver Seth Barrow had one catch for 5 yards.