Compared to some long-running all-star games, Sunday’s third annual Georgia vs. Alabama Indoor Football Classic at the Columbus Civic Center is still in its infancy. But for at least one team of high school seniors, there is already pressure to uphold a winning tradition.
The Georgia team has won both previous games -- 54-21 in 2009 and 83-48 in 2010 -- and this year’s lineup is eager to make it three in a row.
“I think that Georgia has had the best athletes over the past few years, and I think we can continue that this year,” said Pacelli’s Joseph Reese, who has been practicing as a defensive back. “We feel like it’s already a tradition here.”
Many of the Georgia players, who hail from schools throughout Columbus and as far north as Heard County, have spent their high school careers competing against one another. Those rivalries were quickly put aside when they had a common opponent, said Jordan coach Dave Nurnberg, who will coach the Georgia team Sunday.
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“The moment we started practicing, the talk was, ‘We’re going to do this to Alabama,’” Nurnberg said. “As quickly as they became a team, they started focusing on the competition. These are elite high school athletes, and so a lot of them are very competitive. It didn’t take long for them to realize a game was coming up and they wanted to win.”
The Georgia lineup has players from five local Georgia High School Association regions, so nearly all of the athletes faced their new teammates at some point in their careers.
“I think it made us just more enthusiastic and more competitive,” Brookstone lineman Cody Allen said. “Everyone plays harder because of that.”
Sunday’s game will be the final high school football game for players on both teams and could be the last time many of them suit up for a game at any level. With that in mind, each of them is looking to live up to all-star expectations.
“It’s a real great opportunity to get chosen to play in this game and represent Georgia out of a select few people,” Shaw defense end Terrance Upshaw said. “You want to do your best when you’re picked.”
Kickoff is 3 p.m. Sunday, and tickets are $10 and available at the Columbus Civic Center box office and can be exchanged for a free ticket to the Columbus Lions’ 7 p.m. exhibition against the North Georgia Bulldogs.
Chris White, 706-571-8571; follow Chris online a twitter.com/le_chriswhite and at facebook.com/lechriswhite.