By Evan Mohl
The Cove Herald
Most people thought Steven Welch would never play football, or participate in athletics for that matter.
During seventh and eighth grade, Welch, the Bulldawgs starting defensive tackle in 2007, suffered from immune system deficiencies. He couldn’t make enough white blood cells.
Welch was sick so often that he missed a third of his classes for two years.
“I’d get real sick,” Welch said. “I missed so much time at school that I struggled to pass all my classes. Those were hard days.”
The doctors never did figure out what was wrong, but Welch got better and healthy enough to play football, according to the doctors. The senior responded by working relentlessly to compete in the sport he loved at an elite level.
On Monday, the work paid off and those sick days seemed like forever ago.
Welch was selected to participate in the annual Texas High School Coaches Association 2008 All-Star football game on July 29 in San Antonio.
“The problem is 10 million times better now,” Welch said. “But I never expected to get this. My mother even told me she would’ve thought she was dreaming to see me do this well in football.”
Welch is just the fourth player in Copperas Cove school history to be chosen for the honor.
Logan Brock played in the game last year, while Jason Mathenia went in 2001. In 1973, Tommy Ingram was picked from Cove to play in the game.
“It makes me feel extremely honored,” Welch said. “I know the kind of football players that go to the game and to see my hard work paying off, it just makes me feel good inside.”
Only 76 players from the entire state of Texas were chosen to play in San Antonio. No distinction is made based on school size, so the selections range from the smallest schools to the largest.
The players are divided into two separate teams — North and South — based on geography. Welch will be one of the 38 players competing for the North.
“That is the most prestigious game,” said Copperas Cove football head coach Jack Welch, Steven’s father. “There are so many schools and they pick such a few amount of players, that you really have to be impressive to be picked.”
Welch anchored a defense that helped the Bulldawgs reach the state finals for the second consecutive year.
The senior led the team in tackles for a loss and was part of a squad that held opponents under 21 points per game.
Next year, Welch will attend Tarleton State University where he’ll both play football and plans to pursue a major in business management.
Still, just because he has already signed a letter of intent and has his future mostly planned out, Welch isn’t taking anything for granted.
“I’m excited just to see where I match up against all the best defensive tackles in the state,” the younger Welch said. “It’ll be fun, but I’m also going there to hone my skills see what I can do. It’s a good test for myself, so I’m going put everything I can into it.”
Coach Welch said he wasn’t too surprised that none of his other players were chosen to participate in the annual all-start game, despite being state runner-ups for the second year in a row.
“I thought (quarterback) Robert Griffin III had a good shot, but he’s ineligible since he’s already enrolled in college,” Welch said. “With tens-of-thousands of players and hundreds of schools that play football in this state, it’s such an honor for the team, the school and the town to get one.
“And Steven’s a good choice.”
Contact Evan Mohl at email@example.com or (254) 501-7564.