When Eric Hoy’s teammates hoisted him atop their shoulders once they were confident he would be named the offensive MVP of the 67th edition of the East-West All-Star Football Game, he was literally head and shoulders above every player on the field.
It was a fitting spot to be in for the 5-foot, 7-inch tall football standout. He was one of the trio of East stars who scored touchdowns in a 27-13 victory Wednesday night, a trio that featured no one taller than 5-foot-9.
Hoy, Elizabeth City Northeastern’s Ge’Dari Liverman (5-foot-9) and Havelock’s Matthew Boykin (5-foot-5) did all of the scoreboard damage for the East. Yes, towering 6-foot-5 quarterback Garrett Cloer did some important damage as well (throwing two TDs to Hoy), but it was the most miniscule players of the bunch who powered the victory.
“We just tried to find the best football players we could find who really wanted to play in this game,” said East head coach and West Johnston head coach Jimmy Williams. “We found a lot of players whose football hearts didn’t show up in their measurables, guys like Hoy, Ge’Dari and Boykin. But they were players we knew would give us their all and would be unselfish just like every other guy on this roster. …
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“We showed those big guys from the West that the Eastern North Carolina little guys could do the job.”
Hoy was thrilled with the way the entire night went.
“I just can’t be any more thankful to have been a part of this great team and to have their support,” said Hoy, who played quarterback as a senior at Clayton but will play slot receiver in college at Randolph-Macon. “We clicked so well and worked together so well on the football field because of the way we clicked off of the field together all week.
“(The MVP award) is a tribute to the work the offensive line, the backs, my fellow receivers and the quarterbacks did together.”
His ring it will stay: Garner graduate Julius Barnes took a bit of ribbing from his East basketball teammates Chris Clemons and Rob Brown most of the week leading up to the basketball All-Star game.
It seems Clemons and Brown still think back to that regional championship game in March and what could have been for their Millbrook squad. That’s where Garner prevailed in what was probably the most memorable of its wins en route to the 4A state championship.
“We talked about it a lot,” Barnes said of the regional final chatter between the trio. “They kept telling me that I had their ring. But it was all in good fun, the joking. We were friends before, we’re better friends after this week.”
Relying on familiar eyes: West Johnston head coach Jimmy Williams wasn’t the only Wildcat coach helping out the East football squad in their 27-13 victory. West assistants Brian Roach and Sam Hales are among those who helped Williams as needed throughout the whole year leading up to Wednesday’s 27-13 victory over the West squad.
Wednesday night, Hales and Roach were the East coaching staff’s eyes in the sky on the headsets in the coaching box.
Early in the game that communication wasn’t working (electronically) like it was supposed to, prompting Hales to dash from the box at the top of the stadium to the East sideline on the opposite side of the field to help get things going again.
A different view: There was another regional championship overtone on the East girls basketball roster. Southeast Raleigh standout Amber Richardson, an N.C. State recruit, played for the coach — Durham Hillside’s Ovester Grays — who the Bulldogs battled in the last two regionals. Southeast won both of those battles.
“It was a little different experience to see how their team operates from an inside perspective,” Richardson said of her week playing for a Grays-coached squad.