The Border Bowl has traded one “burg” for another in 2017. In it’s tenth year, the annual high school football all-star game is being played outside of Williamsburg for the very first time, moving to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
The game itself will be played this Saturday, January 21, at Sevier County High School, but all practices leading up to the big event will be held at the Rocky Top Sports World complex in Gatlinburg. Players and coaches, including five athletes from our coverage area, reported there Wednesday for check-in and registration.
As those five local Kentucky All-Stars were exiting Rocky Top, they took a few moments to pose for photos and give their comments on getting to be a part of Border Bowl X.
Dylan Brock (LB, Corbin) – “This is obviously a great accomplishment. It’s also a great chance to get away from home and see different athletes from all over our state. I’m looking forward to seeing how I compare to them since I am trying to play at the next level.”
“Playing in the Best of Bluegrass all-star game (Louisville, December 2016) definitely set a lot of expectations for how I think this game might go. When I went up there I was the only one from Corbin. I was very nervous to see how I would compare to the other guys, but after that experience I now feel like I can compete against any of them. I’m going to come in and give it a lot of effort, but I’m feeling pretty confident.”
“This is a great opportunity to meet new people, but it definitely makes it more fun to have a teammate with me this time. It helps you to feel more comfortable, and more relaxed.”
Jacob Lovett (OL, Corbin) – “This is a beautiful place, and it’s definitely a blessing that we get to come down here and play. We have a lot of great coaches. We’re just very lucky to be selected for this game, and to be able to play in this type of an environment.”
“I was at my house when I received a phone call from a coach telling me that I had been selected to play in the Border Bowl. I was ecstatic. Getting one more opportunity to play football, since I’m not going to play at the next level, was just amazing. I jumped on it immediately, and now I’m happy to have one more chance to go out there and play, and to have one more chance to represent Corbin.”
“Coach [Justin] Haddix is proud of me and Dylan. He agrees that we’ve earned everything that we’ve received. Nobody has ever just given us anything. He has taught us a lot, including how to work hard and put all of our effort into competing. That’s what we’re going to do while we’re here. We’re going to compete against some of the best players around, and we’re going to represent Corbin well.”
“I watched Harley Lambert and Caleb Parker (CHS, Class of 2016) play in last year’s game. They were both great players, but I feel like me and Dylan are both great players as well. We’re going to come in and give this our best shot. We’re going to go as hard as we can, because that’s what we’ve been coached to do our whole lives. We’re both excited, and we’re ready to go.”
Hagen Hawn (WR, Williamsburg – “It’s always exciting to be chosen for an all-star game like this. It’s really exciting to be able to represent my school, especially since the Border Bowl used to be in our hometown of Williamsburg. I’ve grown up watching the game, and it’s always been something that people have looked forward to after football season is over. I’ve always wanted to play in it, and now I have the opportunity. It’s just very exciting.”
“It’s also exciting that coach [Jerry] Herron is our head coach this year. That makes it a little bit less intimidating. I’ve not really talked to him that much about the game in terms of what to expect, but he has really helped me throughout the application process. It’s kind of confusing, so I’m glad that I had him there to help me out.”
“These situations are always a little nerve-wracking. If you’re playing during the season you get to watch film on other teams, so you kind of know what to expect. This time I’ll be playing against a bunch of people that I’ve never heard of before. It’s a little bit intimidating, but it’s also exciting at the same time. I just want to come out and show that, I might be from a Class A school, but I can still play football at a high level.”
“It’s also always exciting to get out of school for a few days, and it’s even better to get out of school to come play football. It’s really sad knowing that football is over after your senior season, so it’s just really cool to be able to play again, especially in an atmosphere like this. I’ve always been a fan of this area, so I don’t think they could have chosen a better place for the game.”
Jacob Paul (LB, Whitley County) – “This is a great honor, because I know all of the Colonels, Yellow Jackets and Redhounds that have come before me and played in this game. I just want to show out for my county.”
“I come and visit Gatlinburg sometimes. I think it’s a great place to come and have some fun. It’s beautiful around here with the scenery, and there’s also some great football traditions in this state.”
“As soon as I got the phone call asking me to play in this game I started working out, getting back into shape. I feel like this experience is really going to help me prepare for next year if I’m lucky enough to go on and play in college.”
Dawson Powers (DL, Whitley County) – “This is pretty crazy. I was there for the first Border Bowl, and I’ve been watching it every year since. It’s always been something that I’ve looked forward to. I’ve played football since I was in kindergarten, so this is just a great honor to be picked for this. I’m so excited that I can hardly contain myself right now. I just hope that I can show everybody at home what I’m really made of.”
“I think it’s pretty cool to be here in Gatlinburg. It’s definitely a big change from the way things have been, but I think we’ll still be able to show everyone what Kentucky is made of. I’m just proud to be a part of this team.”
“This is definitely going to be a tough test. I just hope that I’m ready, and the whole team is ready. I’m very proud of our team at Whitley this past season, and I’m also very proud that I could be a part of the senior group that led it. It’s all team work, though, and that’s what this game will depend on too.”
“Me and Jake have been friends since before preschool, so it’s really an honor to be playing with him in the Border Bowl. I’m proud to say that he’s one of my best friends, and it’s amazing that we now get to share this experience together.”
“I hope that this will open up some more doors for me personally as well. I’m planning on playing at the next level, so one of my goals is just to show all of the college coaches what I can do.
For more information on Border Bowl X, visit kytnborderbowl.com.