Ledford’s Fox savors All-Star trip

Jul. 25, 2014 @ 02:43 AM

Josh Fox became the fourth football player from Ledford and first since Madison Hedgecock, a star fullback and Super Bowl champion in the NFL, in 2000 to play in the NCCA East-West All-Star Game.

Fox, an offensive lineman, came in as a reserve for the West in its 10-10 tie with the East on Wednesday at Grimsley’s Jamieson Stadium and rotated in about every other drive, depending on specific offensive packages.

“It was a great experience to get to play with all these superior athletes — the best in North Carolina,” said Fox, a Campbell signee. “It’s great to see how you compare. I played pretty good. I didn’t get to play as much as I wanted to. But, when I did, I played pretty good.”

Fox played a particularly key role, with his team down 10-0 in the fourth quarter, as the lead blocker on a 38-yard run by Kenneth Purvis of Central Cabarrus that led to a 5-yard touchdown run later by Purvis and cut the deficit to 10-7 with 4:02 left in the game.

“It was great,” Fox said with a big smile. “You don’t really think — you just do.”

Southern Guilford lineman Brady Stover, the 10th Storm East-West selection (all but one in football), was injured during the game’s opening defensive series. But, despite the disappointing ending, he did enjoy the experience of the week leading into the game.

“Overall, I think it made me a better person,” Stover said. “I got to meet a lot of good guys who are really good at football. And it was really cool to compete with them at practice. Even though I didn’t get to play in the game, it made me a lot better.”

The initial thought was the injury is to his lateral collateral ligament, one of the four ligaments of the knee. But he’ll have it further evaluated and, taking any setbacks as they come, will continue preparing for his playing career at N.C. A&T State.

“It helps me understand how (college) teams get together and mesh each season,” he said. “In high school, you pretty much have the same guys each season. But, in college, you have more different guys coming in. I’ve learned how to mesh with a team quicker.”

One of the benefits of playing in an all-star game such as the East-West Games is playing with players as teammates who are normally opponents — like Fox and Stover, who lined up against each other in the Mid-Piedmont 3A Conference.

“Me and Fox shared a few ‘Oh, I got you on this play’ and ‘You got me on that play,’” Stover said. “And we had a few laughs about that. So, it was really cool.”

Fox also teamed up with North Davidson’s Kenneth Page and Ryan Nunn on the offensive line.

“It was different,” Fox said with a smile. “There were two guys from North Davidson, our crosstown rival. So, I had to learn how to mesh with them and play offensive line. It was kind of hard at first, but they’re cool guys.”

East assistant coach Wes Mattera also represented his former school, Edenton Holmes, for the final time. He has strong ties to several successful programs in the East and, as offensive coordinator Wednesday, was very motivated in having his team perform well.

But with the close of one chapter came the beginning of another one. As the incoming head coach at Thomasville, he also represented his new team, wearing a black and red Bulldogs hat during the game and a white and red Thomasville shirt afterward.

“It was good, because I have a connection with some of those East guys,” he said. “We had some Scotland (County) kids, and I’d coached there. We had a Currituck kid, and I’d coached against them. Coach (Kim) Cain (from West Bladen) and I had worked together at New Bern.

“I knew Coach (Richard) Bailey (from Scotland County). So, I had some connections already with some of the players and coaches. That was really good for me, and now I’m looking forward to getting a couple days of rest and hitting the ground running Monday with Thomasville.”

For the second straight year, the T.W. Andrews marching band was invited to play at the game, performing in the stands throughout the game and on the field at halftime.

While many other schools’ marching bands might just be finding their form when football begins Aug. 22, the Red Raiders will have already had a performance in front of over 7,000 fans under their belts.

“It was really exciting,” band director Jason Heath said. “These kids work really hard, and we support North Carolina athletics. Our football team just won the state championship, and we’re excited about that. But we’re also excited about kids just coming out here and doing something positive and enjoying music. ...

“It gives us a head start because we can learn music early and have the kids come together. Because sometimes you don’t see your friends all summer. Our band is like a family. We learn together, play together and march. So, this was a great opportunity to come together, be on the field, be under the lights and just have fun.”