In the summer of 1996, the VHSCA All-Star football game was loaded with Division I-A signees. Among them: Menchville’s David Macklin (Penn State), Deep Creek’s Deon Dyer (North Carolina), Powell Valley’s Thomas Jones (Virginia), E.C. Glass’ Andre Kendrick (Virginia Tech), and Ferguson’s Marcellus Harris (East Carolina).
But with high-level players now getting a head start at their colleges in the summer, the all-star game has seen a noticeable decline in talent.
Wednesday afternoon, hoping to bring back the glory days, the VHSCA’s Legislative Committee voted to move the football and basketball all-star games from July to the end of their respective seasons.
Starting the upcoming school year, the football all-star game will be played in December, a week after the VHSL’s championship weekend. The boys and girls basketball games will be played in March, also a week after the title games.
The all-star football game following the 2014 season is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 21. Basketball likely would be the weekend of March 21. The sites have yet to be determined.
“It’s a possibility they could be here, since they have the turf field,” said VHSL Executive Director Mike Smith, speaking from Liberty University in Lynchburg. “We’ll get all that cleared up.”
The remaining five all-star games — baseball, softball, boys and girls soccer and volleyball — will remain in July. They will be in conjunction with the coaches' clinic, which Smith said will be condensed into three days instead of five.
The VHSCA’s all-star games and clinic are contracted to be held in Lynchburg through 2016.
For Harris, who remembers how the all-star game used to be, it’s a welcomed decision.“I think it’ll be a good change,” said Harris, now the head coach at Denbigh. “I had a guy (Chris Peace, a Virginia signee) who was unable to play because he’s in summer school. A lot more kids will be able to participate now.
“Plus, going from the end of November to July, that’s a long period of time. Some guys aren’t able to work themselves back in shape. It’ll be good for those guys, even though some will be banged up from the season.”
Neither Virginia nor Virginia Tech, the commonwealth’s two Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A) schools, has a player in this year’s all-star game. Neither, for that matter, do Old Dominion (which is tranisitioning to FBS), William and Mary or Hampton University.
Basketball faces the same situation. The Peninsula District’s Class of 2013 included Hampton’s Anthony Barber and Kecoughtan’s Rodney Bullock on the boys side and Woodside’s Adrienne Motley and Kecoughtan’s Chelsey Romero on the girls. All were Division I signees, but none played in the game because of summer school.
What has made July problematic for the VHSCA is a 2005 NCAA rule that allows athletic scholarships to begin in the summer instead of the fall. Incoming freshmen are now able to enroll in the summer and participate in workouts.