Amazing Stories of The 2005 All-American Bowl Game Classic!
By Super Scout Max Emfinger
In 2003, I hosted the First Annual 7on7 National Championship; and then I hosted another 7on7 National Championship in 2004, 2005, and 2006. My mission and goal has always been to search for that hidden high school football talent or hidden gem that has not been found yet. I then evaluate him and try to help him to get some publicity.
The only drawback was that the College Coaches wanted to see the hidden gems in a game-type highlight film and so all of these College Coaches suggested to me that I host a real game or an All-American Bowl Game so that they could view these talented players in a highlight film, playing against other talented players. It must be noted that the NCAA doesn’t allow these College Coaches to attend these All-American Bowl Games and so the Game Film was of great importance to these College Coaches.
I also knew that I was probably going to be the only person that could help these great players. After giving it a lot of thought and a lot of Prayer, I decided that there was a real need to put together an All-American Bowl Game Classic after the football season, so that College Coaches could view the Highlight Film of the game and evaluate some of these players who were overlooked and Flying Under the Recruiting Radar.
I am an eternal optimist and I see things quite differently than most people. I see these unfortunate situations as reversible and worth putting time into fixing. I look at players on the so-called Recruiting Lists and I feel that many of these players are on the list because of some great publicity, family income, and geographic location. I evaluate every one of these players and measure them on their own ability and not whether they are on these Recruiting Lists or not. These players MEASURABLES are also very important.
The great players, not on the major Recruiting Lists, are many of the players that I invite to play in my All-American Bowl Game Classic. Many of these high school football players, from all over America, Hawaii, Australia, and Canada are from low economic, low opportunistic, minority, and players of Foreign Descent.
For all of 2004, I worked on getting my First Annual 2005 All-American Bowl Game Classic, off of the ground. I said my Father Seelos Prayer For A Miracle every single day and the Miracle happened on January 13, 2005.
There were 80 players in that first 2005 game in Shreveport, Louisiana at the Independence Bowl Stadium. About 50 of those players had already committed to play for their favorite college team, but there were also 26 players that did not have a single scholarship at the first practice and then received a football scholarship and got their college education paid for from the highlights of the game film.
In that first 2005 All-American Bowl Game, there was a Defensive End from New York named Matthew Featherston, that I had evaluated on Film and I thought that he was a sensational player and I invited him to play in our game. I still remember watching his Highlight Film that his mother sent me. The Highlight Film quality was terrible, but he played both ways and never came off of the football field. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I counted 28 tackles from his Defensive End on defense and then Featherston also caught two long touchdowns from his Tight End position on offense.
Featherston got off the airplane in Shreveport and came to our first practice without a single scholarship offer. On Saturday Night at Midnight, his Athletic Director called to tell me about a New York Rule forbidding players from playing in an Out of State All-Star Game without getting approval. I asked him what I could do to get him approved and he told me that he would talk to the New York Coaches Association on Sunday. The Association called me back on Sunday and then faxed me a form to fill out. The problem with the Form was that I did not know exactly how I was supposed to answer some of their questions, but I answered them the best I could and then said a Prayer. Then, at exactly 2:30 P.M. on Monday, after four practices, I got another phone call from the New York Coaches Association Lady, releasing him to play in the game after receiving the Legal Fax giving him the permission to play in the game.
After our first day of two-a-days practice, Matthew Featherston (6-2, 235, 4.6) was the “Buzz” in all of the practices. In the All-American Bowl Game, Featherston recorded seven tackles and three quarterback sacks. After the Game on Friday, Featherston was Voted as the Defensive MVP of the Game. By this time, most every College Coach in America knew about this kid from New York.
I tried to call Syracuse about Featherston for two weeks, but they had just changed Head Coaches and they were still in disarray, so his Cell Phone started ringing as soon as he got off the plane in New York and it continued to ring for about two hours. After taking two Official Visits to Michigan State and Texas A&M, Featherston signed with Texas A&M where he Red-Shirted as a True Freshman and then he started at Defensive End and Defensive Tackle for four years.
An interesting part of this Amazing Story was the NCAA Rule regarding College Coaches going to High School All-American Games and Practices. The NCAA has had this NCAA Rule in effect for a long time, but the NCAA Rule has been adjusted to accomodate Special Situations. One Special Situation to the NCAA Rule is when a College Coach has a Son in an All-American Game. In this situation, the College Coach is given permission to go to the game and practices to watch his Son play.
The quirky interpretation of this NCAA Rule also includes a College Coach who can also go to an All-American Game to see his Father coach. The West Team Head Coach and the Head Coach of Featherston was Coach Les Koenning, Sr and Texas A&M Offensive Coordinator Les Koenning, Jr was able to go to every single All-American Bowl Game Practice and also to the Game. Les Koenning, Jr was able to get the jump on every other College Coach in America and it paid off for the Aggies.
Also in the 2005 All-American Bowl Game, I found a Super Athlete named Ricky Price from Houston Cy-Falls who came to our first practice with one offer from Missouri. I took him as a cornerback, after he had been impressive at a Houston NIKE Combine earlier in the summer when he ran a Legit 4.4 in the Forty. There were over 1,500 players at that NIKE Camp and Price was the “Buzz” of the Super Combine.
Then when one of the Wide Receivers got hurt, and could not play, we moved Price (6-0, 180, 4.4) to offense. In that game, Price caught an unbelievable eleven passes for 198-yards and two touchdowns and was Voted the Game Offensive MVP as he helped the West Team win 44-21. After the game, Price received six more offers, signed with Oklahoma State, and started as a Wide Receiver as a True Freshman in 2005.
Price moved back to defense as a Junior and also started for the Cowboys at Safety in 2007 and 2008. In 2007, Price recorded 78 tackles, including 13 tackles against Oklahoma in the Finale. Price was also played for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Linebacker Chase Kennemer of Arlington Lamar, Texas also came to our first practice in 2005 without a single scholarship offer. Kennemer was also at my First and Second Annual 2003 and 2004 National 7on7 Championships. He signed with SMU and became the Mustangs leading tackler for three straight years. Kennemer also helped the Mustangs to their first Bowl Game in 2009 for the first time in a few decades. Kennemer was voted as a Team Captain by his teammates and earned All-C-USA. He recorded an SMU Team-High 126 Tackles and 10.5 Tackles for a Loss, with two interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
The locker-room was really rocking after the Mustangs 2009 Bowl victory. “Guys are still in the locker-room, dancing and screaming,” said Kennemer. “I can’t even explain the feeling that we have right now.” SMU came out of the 2009 Bowl Game, its first in 25 years, as a completely different football program than the one that entered the game as a 12 point underdog. The Mustangs never gave the WolfPack (8-5) a chance in front of an ESPN audience on Christmas Eve in Aloha Stadium.
“You can’t make-up this stuff for your program and Kennemer was our leader,” said SMU Head Coach June Jones. “I think you’ll find applications to SMU will go up, and we’ll get a different reaction from players in Recruiting.”
Offensive Guard Marc Keppner (6-4, 307, 5.2) of Houston Cy-Creek, Texas was one of the best offensive linemen for the West Team in the 2005 All-American Bowl Game as the West Team rushed for 265-yards. Keppner did not have a single scholarship offer and it took me about a month to get him placed, but when Henderson State Head Coach Scott Maxfield signed him, he could not believe how great a player that he was and still was not signed by a BCS School.
The real Recruiting Story was that in the Spring, when all of the College Coaches were evaluating, Keppner was a little over-weight at around 365-pounds. Many of the College Coaches who had already evaluated him, would not re-evaluate him, because they thought he was overweight and sluggish and I could not get them to re-evaluate him.
There were at least two College Coaches, one in the Big-12 and one in the SEC; two from Conference USA; and one from the Sunbelt that were really looking for an offensive lineman, but would not take a look at him. After Coach Maxfield Signed him, Keppner Red-Shirted as a True Freshman and then started for four years. Keppner was an NAIA All-American in 2008 and 2009 for Henderson State.
Lee Grimes (6-6, 320, 5.0) was another great Offensive Lineman on the West Team from my Hometown, Brownwood, Texas. Grimes was one of the largest players to ever play for the Brownwood Lions and I saw him in two-a-day practice as a junior and I knew that he was going to be a great College Prospect. Grimes was offered Early by Texas A&M and he accepted their offer and never waivered. In the All-American Bowl Game practices, Grimes was the most impressive Offensive Lineman of all of the Offensive Linemen on both teams. He weighed 320-pounds and he ran a 5.0 in the Forty on Saturday at our Super Combine on the Independence Bowl Stadium grass turf.
Grimes started at right tackle for the West Team, but he re-injured a previous ankle injury in the second quarter and did not play in the second half. Although he did not play in the second half, Grimes still was voted as the Offensive Lineman MVP. Grimes hooked-up with Featherston at A&M as he Redshirted as a True Freshman in 2005 and then played four years, starting the last three years for the Aggies.
Chad Beverage (6-1, 235, 4.5) of Shreveport Airline, Louisiana was one of the best players in the country in 2004, but he was not being recruited by anyone when I found him. In the third round of the Louisiana 5A Playoffs, against powerhouse West Monroe, Beverage recorded two interceptions, returning one of them 65-yards for touchdown; while the other one set up a field goal as the Mighty West Monroe team bearly edged Airline by a 12-10 score.
Beverage came to the 2005 All-American Bowl Game, with no scholarship offers and not on any College Coaches Recruiting Lists. With this kind of size and speed at safety, Beverage was destined for greatness and he impressed everyone all week in practice. In our Game, Beverage started at one of the outside linebackers for the East Team and recorded Eight tackles and two forced fumbles in the game. On one of his tackles, he hit the ball carrier so hard, he knocked himself “stone-cold” unconscious.
After about five-minutes, of being unconscious, Beverage gets up and runs off the field at the Independence Bowl. I will never forget that moment when three plays later, Beverage ran back onto the field and played the rest of the game. Although Featherston was Voted as the Defensive Game MVP, Beverage was a Unanimous East Team Defensive MVP. On National Signing Day, Beverage signed with Hometown Louisiana Tech over Memphis and a few others. Beverage recorded 10 tackles and a sack as a True Freshman in 2005, but injuries forced him to give-up football in 2006.
Joel Bogan (6-2, 255, 4.8) of Shreveport Evangel, Louisiana was the best Center Snapper that I saw in the 2004 Football Season. I also found out real quick that if you don’t have a Center Snapper, you really can’t play a football game, expecially if you are Shotgun Center Snapping on every single play. So the next player after you get your Quarterback better be your Center Snapper.
In 2004, there was not a better Center Snapper in the country than Joel Bogan. He was a rare Four-Year starter for one of the Top Teams in the Country that runs the Shotgun Offense on every single play. Evangel and Bogan rarely took snaps directly from center. His snaps to the Quarterback were hard 10-yard snaps, giving the Quarterback more time to find a Wide Receiver.
Bogan was also the Starting Center on Three Louisiana 5A State Championship Games, but he had been nursing a slight ham-string ever since the 2004 State Championship Game, and he did not know if he could play in the game. We were playing in Shreveport and the East Team was practicing at Evangel High School, the 5A Louisiana State Champions. At our First Sunday Morning Practice, Bogan was not at practice.
The East Team Coaches and I were deeply concerned, because no other offensive lineman could Center Snap in the Shotgun Offensive Formation. We did not find Bogan until after our second practice. He had been at his girl friend’s house and he did not have a Cell Phone. We finally got Bogan to our third practice on Monday morning and he was impressive for the rest of the week and also in our 2005 All-American Bowl Game on Saturday.
While trying to find Bogan, we also were able to find his Quarterback Billy Barefield and since we were short at that position, Barefield also joined the East Team on Monday as his dad, Keith Barefield was the East Team Head Coach.
Barefield (5-11, 170, 4.3) was an exceptionally gifted athletic Quarterback who helped Evangel to win the 5A State Championship with his arm and his legs. His dad was also the Evangel Offensive Coordinator and both Barefields were able to put-up some great offensive stats, but they were not able to beat the loaded West Defensive Team with DE Featherston, WLB Kennemer, MLB Alex Odiari (6-1, 225, 4.52) of Lewisville Hebron, Texas; , WLB Logan Hunt (6-1, 200, 4.5) of Granbury, Texas; WLB Gerald Singleton (6-2, 208, 4.47) of Palestine, Texas; SS Trokon Tompo (6-1, 200, 4.5) of Euless-Trinity, Texas; FS Duffy Otteson (5-10, 190, 4.45) of Tonopah, Nevada; and DT Vincent Williams (6-6, 290, 4.7) of Dallas Carter.
Other East Team Defensive Stars with Beverage included MLB Matt Kreamer (6-1, 220, 4.5) of Shreveport Evangel; CB Wes Winston (5-11, 198, 4.4) of Evangel; FS Patrick Trahan (6-3, 218, 4.4) of New Orleans St Augustine; FS Tyler Grisham (6-0, 180, 4.43) of Hoover Spain Park, Alabama; and DE Alonzo Horton (6-4, 225, 4.5) of New Orleans Abramson, Louisiana.
Billy Barefield is currently the Passing Game Coordinator for Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma. Barefield was somewhat of a Celebrity at our Eighth Annual All-American Bowl Game Classic, as he was the East Team Offensive Coordinator for Head Coach and Former Florida Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Wes Chandler.
Barefield was the East Team Offensive MVP in the 2005 All-American Bowl Game Classic, and he then came back in the 2006 All-American Bowl Game Classic, as the East Team Quarterback Coach for his Dad, Keith Barefield who was the East Team Head Coach for the Second straight year. Billy Barefield was recently a Student Assistant Coach for Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Oklahoma.
Barefield had a sensational High School career as he led his San Antonio Cornerstone Team to the 2001 Texas Private School State Championship as a Freshman. Then he led that team to a Second Place Finish in 2002 and then the 2003 State Championship again as a Junior. In 2004, Billy Barefield moved to Shreveport Evangel with his Dad and then led his 2004 Shreveport Evangel Team to the Louisiana 5A State Championship.
Barefield is an outstanding, young Christian Athlete and Christian Coach and he is destined to become one of the Great All-Time Coaches in the Country.
In our First All-American Bowl Game Classic, College Coaches from Arkansas, Louisiana Tech, Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Southern Miss, Texas A&M, Tulane, Iowa State, Cincinnati, and Michigan watched practice on Tuesday at the Independence Bowl Stadium with great interest in finding a missing jewel. There were others who called after the game with interest and throughout the week.
There were a few other glitches in putting on a huge Game like this for the First Time, mainly because we were never able to get any National or Local Sponsors, but there was nothing that we thought we could not overcome. There were a lot of Miracles that took place in the last 30 days and even more Miracles during the Week. Nothing has really changed, because we are still looking for Sponsors for our Tenth Annual All-American Bowl Game on January 3.
We need to give a Very Special Thanks to my beautiful wife, Ginger, of 34 years in 2005, who let me do this First Annual Event without a Single Sponsor. I also want to Thank Ginger for washing 125 Game Pants in cold water and letting them hang-dry in our home. For about two days, you could not see the insides of our house, because those 125 Pants were hang-drying on all of our funiture and all over the floor.
I have told many of these players that are Flying Under the Recruiting Radar that they only need one offer to get their education paid and get to the NFL. Drew Brees, Barry Sanders, and Kliff Kingsbury only had one offer and they all went to New York for the Heisman Trophy Awards Ceremony.
My First Annual AABG