The Pine Bluff area will be well represented in Friday’s Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star football game.
The East-West game will kick off at 7 p.m. at Estes Stadium on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.
The West team will feature two of the areas top defensive players in Kelvin Sergeant and Joseph Stewart.
The West’s coaching staff has yet to announce to the players who will be starting in Friday’s game. However, if Wednesday’s practice is any indication, then Sergeant and Stewart will likely get starting nods as both took their reps with the first-team defense.
Sergeant is an outside linebacker, who attended Pine Bluff High School and racked up over 100 tackles this season. His junior season he made 104 tackles to go along with three sacks.
Stewart is a ball-hawking free safety out of White Hall, who picked off 10 passes this season on his way to being named SEARK Defensive Player of the Year by The Commercial. Stewart had six interceptions his junior year, including a pair he ran back for touchdowns.
Sergeant and Stewart have spent the summer working out, but that doesn’t mean the preparation for Friday’s game has been easy.
“I have been working out and trying to keep in shape, but still it’s a little challenging. I mean, I’m a bit sore,” Sergeant said following Wednesday’s practice.
Stewart echoed that feeling.
“I’ve been working out, but it’s still different putting pads on,” he said.
Other than getting back into physical shape, one of the most difficult things about preparing for an all-star football game is making sure the offensive plays and the defensive schemes are simple enough that everyone is able to be on the same page.
“Honestly, I thought it’d be hard, but everyone has really picked it up quick,” Stewart said about learning the defense.
His teammate agreed.
“The coaches have done a really good job of making things simple,” Sergeant said. “With the kind of athletes we have, as long as you do the little things, you can kind of just let natural ability take over.”
Some players might not like having to play on the same team as players they normally play against, but Sergeant and Stewart relish the opportunity.
“I really enjoy it,“ Stewart said. “We just talk about all of the old games.”
”Everyone here is just a great athlete,” Sergeant said. “It makes you have to play a lot better.”
When asked how he felt knowing Friday would be his final high school game, Sergeant shook his head and laughed.
“It hasn’t really sunk in, yet, but it’s going to be a little bittersweet,” he said.