BY DARREN REESE
Greeneville High School will be well represented this Saturday when the Toyota East/West All-Star Classic is played on the campus of Tennessee Tech.
Greeneville head coach Caine Ballard is serving as the coach for the East squad this year. GHS senior linebacker Tyrus Rollins is the only county player participating.
Kick-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.
The game brings together nearly 100 of the best high school seniors in the state. They started going through meetings and practices Wednesday, and Ballard says it gives many of them one final opportunity to boost their visibility in the recruiting process.
"There are a lot of college coaches at these practices leading up to the game, and it's a good opportunity for some of these kids that are borderline scholarship players to be seen," the coach explained.
"The coaches watch these kids and use this roster to find kids they want to take a closer look at. If you are one of the kids that get chosen for this game, that's impressive. There are a lot of good players that don't get selected."
Rollins is one of those players still trying to figure out where he wants to play at the next level.
He finished the year with 119 total tackles, including 13 for a loss. He also recorded two interceptions.
His playing time was limited compared to some, due to the large margins of victory that Greeneville posted in over half its games.
"Tyrus has had coaches call about him and plan to look at him this week," Ballard said. "He has grown leaps and bounds for us this year."
"He is a true leader on defense. He understands the game."
As the head coach, Ballard is in charge of preparing 44 kids from different parts of the state - from Bristol to Nashville - to play together as a team for one game.
He started meeting with his assistant coaches on the all-star squad several weeks ago to begin devising a game plan.
"It's a long, hard week," Ballard said. "It's a week away form your family around the holidays."
"But, at the same time, it's a wonderful week, to be around a bunch of talented players and coaches."
Helping Coach Ballard with the East team are Brian Nix of Alcoa, Jason Fitzgerald of Hixson, Damon Floyd of Bradley Central, Tony Lambert of Oneida, Danny Bentley of Greeneville, Mike Zeller of Lenoir City and Steve Trapp of DeKalb County.
Kevin Creasy of Trousdale County is the head coach of the West squad. His assistants are Anthony Crabtree of Beech, Wes Duncan of Columbia, Jeff Porter of White House, Rahnmann Slocum of Fairley, Kelly Spive of South Fulton, Eric Swenson of Huntingdon and Troy Williams of Dickson County.
"I think each member of the staff represents his half of the state very well," explained Bill Marbet, Executive Director of the Tennessee Athletic Coaches Association, the organizing body of the game. "Both large and small schools are equally represented as are schools from metropolitan and rural communities," he added.
"Cookeville and Tennessee Tech have welcomed us with open arms, providing help with a number of activities that await the players and coaches who have been selected to play in this special event," he added.
This is the sixth year the game has been held. The previous five years it was hosted by Carson-Newman College.
This year's game will be telecast live on all of the state's PBS television stations. It will also be streamed on tssaanetwork.com and on ESPN3.com. Fans can also listen to the game on a statewide radio network via WKCS, the FM radio station for Knox County Schools. Fans can access that broadcast at http://www.WKCSradio.org.