By Evan Mohl
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – Steven Welch has one more game to play in his high school career before finally hanging up his Bulldawg jersey for good.
The defensive tackle will suit up for the North in the annual Texas High School Coaches Association 2008 All-Star Football Game in San Antonio tonight at 7:30 p.m.
The contest is arguably the most prestigious and selective in the state. Only 76 players from Texas were chosen to play, and no distinction is made based on school size. So the all-stars come from the smallest schools (Class 1A) to the largest (5A).
"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."
Welch is just the fourth player in Copperas Cove football history to make the game. Logan Brock played in the game last year while Jason Mathenia went in 2001. Tommy Ingram, in 1973, was the first CCHS player to be selected.
"This is the most prestigious game in the state of Texas," said Copperas Cove 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."
The game, which will be played at the Alamodome, will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Southwest.
Welch should see significant playing time since he's just one of three defensive tackles on the North squad. Blake Bledsoe of Longview and K.K. Francis of Mesquite are the other two defensive tackles. Welch will be wearing No. 80 since his normal No. 79 will be donned by offensive lineman Aaron Fortenberry.
The North, which will be coached by Darren Allman of Odessa and will wear the visiting white jerseys tonight, was shut out last year, 14-0, at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth. This year, they'll have some standout players including future A&M running back Cyrus Gray of Desoto and TCU-committed defensive end Ross Forrest from Permian.
In this game, however, every player is someone worth watching out for, including Welch. The 6-foot-2, 270-pound Cove graduate anchored a defense that helped the Bulldawgs reach the state finals for the second consecutive year. He led the team in tackles for a loss and was part of a squad that held opponents under 21 points per game.
In the fall, Welch will attend Tarleton State University, where he's been working out all summer preparing for Tuesday's game. Welch knows the talent level that'll be there, and he's looking forward to finding out where he ranks among the best players in Texas.
"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."
Contact Evan Mohl at email@example.com or (254) 501-7564.