Photo: 2019 Gadsden City High School graduate Q Dillard (center) blocks a South defender during the North/South All-Star Football Classic on July 18 in Montgomery. (submitted photo)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
2019 Gadsden City High School graduate Javaronze “Q” Dillard finished off his prep career with a flourish last week in Montgomery.
Dillard started at right guard for the North squad in the 60th Annual All-Star Football Classic, a game that saw the South pull out a 22-19 victory on July 18 at the Crampton Bowl. When asked about the level of competition he faced, Dillard noted that it wasn’t anything he hadn’t already seen at GCHS.
“In Class 7A, I went against guys who were going to SEC and Big 10 schools, so it was just about the same. I just knew I had to go out there and play 100 percent.”
Dillard plans on studying welding at Gadsden State this fall, unless an opportunity arises to play college football.
GCHS head football coach Ali Smith was an assistant with the North team.
“Unfortunately, we lost there at the end, but overall it was a great experience. It was a joy to work with a lot of those guys, and you could see how well-coached they were by their [high school] coaches. It made for an easy week.”
Smith said that Dillard acquitted himself well against top-notch competition.
“I thought that Q did a heck of a job out there. He definitely was one of the bright spots for us. Q comes from a great family and he’s just an excellent young man to be around.”
South wide receiver Artell Howell of Vigor hauled in a 31-yard game-winning touchdown pass from Vigor quarterback Kyle Walker with 6:23 left in the fourth quarter. The score gave the South a 22-19 lead and the defense held on in the final six minutes.
Howell finished the night with three receptions for 77 yards to earn South MVP honors.
Vigor’s Jayland Whitsett scored on a 1-yard touchdown run late in the third period to give the South a 14-13 lead. The South finished with 268 total yards.
The South dominated the first quarter offensively, finally getting on the scoreboard with 9:53 remaining in the second period when Walker snagged a 15-yard TD pass from Enterprise’s Grant Thornton to give the South a 7-0 lead.
The North tied the score later in the period, turning a South turnover at its own 15 into a 3-yard touchdown run by Jasper’s Michael Crear with 3:05 left until intermission. Marion County’s Braden Pyron kicked the extra point and the two teams went in at halftime tied 7-7.
The North took the lead with 5:09 left in the third period when DAR’’s Brayden Lewis hauled in a 7-yard touchdown pass from Crear to take a 13-7 lead. The extra point was blocked.
Whitsett’s touchdown put the South ahead two minutes later at 14-13.
The North received a big break with 8:19 left in the final period when Winfield’s Chris Broyles returned a punt 22 yards for a touchdown, putting the North back on top at 19-14.
Howell’s dramatic catch two minutes later made it 20-19, and Thornton passed to Whitsett for the two-point conversion to round out the scoring.
Brooks’ Noah Turbyfill rushed for a game-high 82 yards on 12 carries to earn the North MVP award.
Tallassee’s Trent Cochran-Gil led the South with nine tackles, followed by Prattville’s Zachary Boerner and Vi-gor’s E.J. Thomas with seven each. Dora’s Andrew Gaylor led the North with eight tackles, while Jasper’s Micah Wood had five.
Earlier in the week, both teams were treated to a tour of the local Hyundai plant, a visit that Smith felt resonated with many of the young athletes.
“I heard some of the kids talking about how they wanted to become engineers, so that was an awesome experience for them.”
This article was supplemented by ahsaa.com.