WACO — Cole Edmiston’s eyes widened at the sheer magnitude of his green and gold surroundings.
While the hot June sun beat down on his forehead, the former Gatesville quarterback stood on edge of the north end zone as images of completing passes with tens of thousands of Baylor faithful cheering him on danced in his head.
“I’m just kind of soaking it all in, this is crazy to actually think you’re going to play football for this school, ... it’s kind of surreal,” Edmiston said.
Edmiston, who has a preferred walk-on opportunity with the Baylor football team next season, is hoping to open more eyes Saturday — especially that of Art Briles and his future Bears coaches — when he’s one of 17 area athletes playing in the fifth annual FCA Super Centex Victory Bowl at Baylor’s Floyd Casey Stadium.
“It’s a lot bigger than Gatesville,” laughed Edmiston, who will try to maintain the Red team’s perfect (4-0) record.
And with the building of new Baylor Stadium set to be completed and open for the 2014 season coupled with an expected redshirt season his first year on campus, Edmiston knows this could be his first and only opportunity to play on the 63-year-old Waco landmark.
But for some like former Belton quarterback Peter Shelburne, who had hoped to pursue a walk-on opportunity at Rice, the Victory Bowl will mark the end of his football career after financial issues forced him to reconsider his options and attend the University of Texas as a student instead.
“This is going to be it,” Shelburne said. “It’s going to be a really good experience to play with some of the people we played against in our district every year. It’s going to be fun to go out with one last game and make memories out here.”
Both Edmiston and Shelburne are two of four quarterbacks on the Red team roster, while ex-Florence quarterback Kaleb Hardy, who’s signed with Incarnate Word, will take snaps for the Blue team.
“It’s going to be awesome, and a lot softer,” Hardy said of playing on the Floyd Casey turf as opposed to the hard and dry field at Florence’s Stampede Stadium.
“I’m not used to playing in a stadium like this, (laughs) so it’s going to be pretty cool. I’m just trying to figure where the shot clock is. I’m going to enjoy every moment of it.”
The Central Texas-based District 8-5A has 14 representatives across both teams, including Shelburne’s former Tigers teammate Kyle Battle, who will play football at the Naval Academy, is joining him on the Red team, along with Copperas Cove’s Billy Hatten (West Virginia Weslyean), Darius McClinton and Les Sakaria (Quincy University); Ellison’s Isiah Cowan (West Texas A&M) and Hunter Teegardin (UMHB); and Shoemaker linemen Josh King and Terrance Valentine. Also on the Red team were Gatesville kicker Sebastian Corrales and receiver Tyler Jaynes.
“It feels great just to have the honor to play in this bowl game and be selected, because not a lot of people get to do this,” Cowan said. “It’s a gift, not a lot of people have the gift to play football, and we’re very fortunate to play in this game.”
Joining Hardy on the Blue team will be former Buffaloes receiver Jimmy Struble, with former 22-2A rival Salado lineman Billy Golding and Killeen’s Elika Sailiata blocking and ex-Roos defensive back Marcus Hodges (Hardin Simmons) on defense.
Struble, like Jaynes, is just looking to soak in the opportunity for one last hoorah with longtime friends and quarterbacks Hardy and Edmiston, respectively.
“We just get to have fun one more time,” said Struble, who will run track at Lamar University.
Gatesville head coach Kyle Cooper is head coach of the Red team while Harker Heights head coach Mike Mullins will be one of his assistants.