Just like the other 71 players selected to compete in the 67th Friday Night Rivals All-Star Football Classic, Tay Calloway is “excited’’ to be invited and looks forward to the June 13 game at South Charleston High School.
But unlike a lot of the other players in the game, Calloway’s participation could turn out to be as much business as it is pleasure.
The Capital senior running back-defensive back is hoping to play at the collegiate level next season, but has yet to cast his lot with any school. So the week-long North-South experience could give the 5-foot-8, 205-pound Calloway some much-needed exposure in that regard.
Players report to West Virginia State’s campus in Institute for a week of training camp in preparation for the game, which is set for a noon kickoff and will again be televised live on WCHS-TV.
“I’ve always wanted to play in this game,’’ Calloway said, “so when I got the call, I was excited. I’m a big-play player, and I can do that for our team.’’
Last season at Capital, Calloway led the team in rushing with 136 carries for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns and also caught 12 passes for 107 yards and two more scores. He posted four games of more than 100 yards on the ground, including an 18-carry, 136-yard, two-TD game in the Cougars’ 45-21 playoff win at Wheeling Park.
Calloway is one of 13 Kanawha Valley athletes chosen to play for the South squad. He is unsure what position he’ll play when training camp opens, since he also manned a safety spot on the Capital defense.
“Unless we played someone like Spring Valley,’’ Calloway said, “and then I moved up to linebacker.’’
Capital coach Jon Carpenter said he thinks Calloway might be better suited for offense at the collegiate level.
“I think he likes offense better,’’ Carpenter said. “I know he’s smart enough to play wherever somebody gives him a shot to play. But he’s a real strong runner, a between-the-tackles kind of guy, so he might try offense first. He’s got a good future in front of him.’’
Calloway said he hasn’t had any problems keeping in shape during the current coronavirus pandemic that has closed or limited exercise facilities around the Kanawha Valley and the rest of the country.
“I’ve got a couple places where I can work out,’’ he said. “I haven’t missed much.’’
The game is sponsored by the West Virginia Schools Athletic Coaches Association and WCHS-TV 8/Fox 11.
The North won last year’s contest 8-6, its fourth straight in the series, matching its longest victory run from 1999-2003. The South remains ahead in the all-time series 40-23-3.