Smith, Johnson AISA all-stars

Published 6:05 pm Monday, November 21, 2005

By By Matthew Nascone
Two Cougars were honored with one of the greatest personal achievement an athlete can attain.
Seniors Bruce Smith and Josh Johnson were named to the Alabama Independent School Association's 2005 All-Star East football squad.
"It is a great opportunity and it speaks highly of the talent we have here and how hard Bruce and Josh have worked all year," Escambia Academy head football coach Heath Gibson said. "I am happy for them."
The AISA All-Star Classic will be played at "Shug" Jordan Stadium on Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. in Selma.
Gibson said he believes this is a great event for the two guys nominated and for the school in general.
"They are two exceptional kids," Gibson said. "To have these guys representing our school speaks highly of the school. These guys will represent the school in as high a fashion as anyone we could send."
A panel of eight coaches in the east area selected Smith and Johnson. The dedication of the two players is what got them to the all-star game, Gibson said.
"The other coaches carry more weight than I do," he said. "What they did against those other teams was what impressed them enough to put (Smith and Johnson) on this all-star team."
Smith said he is excited to be an all-star. He will not be able to participate in the game because of a broken hand suffered in the Cougars loss to Tuscaloosa Academy in the first round of the AISA 2A state playoffs.
"I am honored to go down there and meet some of those guys because they are a step above everybody else," Smith said. "We worked hard and I had a lot of help from my teammates. I was going all out because it was my senior year."
Smith said he plans to go to college and walk on to a football team somewhere. He knows how tough it is to walk on to a school like Auburn or Alabama.
"I am trying to see if I can play college ball anywhere," he said. "I can't go play at Alabama or Auburn because I am too small, but I am looking to walk on somewhere."
On a visit to Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Smith said he absorbed the atmosphere and liked what he saw.
"I went up there for one of their games and liked it a lot," Smith said.
Johnson is looking to stay in west Alabama after graduation. He said he is looking at attending the University of West Alabama in Livingston. Making the all-star team has been a dream of Johnson's for a long time.
"This was definitely a goal of mine," he said. "It has been a goal since I was in ninth grade. Just making it is great because there are so many people who were chosen out of the bigger schools and I was one of the few chosen from ours."
Dedication to practicing the game and knowing the game has never been a problem for Johnson because in his four years at EA he only missed one practice.
Gibson is no stranger to the all-star game. In his three years as head coach at EA he has sent six players to the annual classic and coached in it last year. He has also been selected as a coach this year.
"I went last year and I enjoyed myself," Gibson said. "It is a good time, but it is a lot of hard work."
The hard work is made easier by the quickness with which the players pick up the playbook for the game, Gibson said. There is so much work because the teams have only two practices to prepare for the game.
"When you play with this kind of talent level it is amazing what these guys can pick up," Gibson said. "Last year, about halfway through the first practice, they had the offense down and they were running it as good as our team would run it and that is because you have so many good athletes on the team."

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