High School Sports

New prep football all-star game coming to Charlotte the same day as Shrine Bowl

A new high school football all-star game will kick off in Charlotte this year.

The first Queen City Senior Bowl will be played at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21st at Olympic High School. That’s the same day as the annual Shrine Bowl all-star game in Spartanburg.

After expenses, all proceeds will go to Charlotte’s Metro School, which works with cognitively disabled students who have autism, visual and hearing impairments.

“The Shrine Bowl is one of the best events around,” said Bobby Collins, one of the event’s organizers, who is the coach at Marlboro County (S.C.) High School. “But we wanted to be able to do a community service event for the city of Charlotte. And I wanted the world to see the good things that are happening with Charlotte football. I mean, we’re watching the (Arizona) Cardinals play and DJ (Humphries) false starts and I’m laughing. I used to coach against that kid when he was at Mallard Creek.”

The Shrine Bowl, which was was held in Charlotte from 1937-2000, is played at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., and has raised more than $75 million for Shriner’s Hospitals since its inception.

This year, 11 Mecklenburg County players made the Shrine Bowl, up from seven in 2018 and four in 2017.

Collins is a former head coach at Hough High School and was an assistant at West Mecklenburg and Providence Day. He said he hopes to establish a similar annual tradition with the new local game and he wants to make it as accessible as possible. Tickets will be $5.

The Queen City game is exclusively for seniors from Mecklenburg County’s public and private schools who didn’t get picked for the Shrine Bowl or other postseason all-star games. There will be two 40-man rosters, coached by Butler High’s Brian Hales and Providence Day’s Adam Hastings.

“I’m a South Carolina guy, but after coaching in Charlotte for 10 years, Charlotte still has some of the best talent I’ve ever been around,” Collins said. “And being here 10 years taught me that we have a lot of good football players who don’t get the shine they deserve.”

Collins became interested in helping to put together the game after watching an old Sumter (S.C.) High classmate, Perry Parks, put on a similar event in Columbia, S.C. last year. The Metro Bowl allowed players not selected to the Shrine Bowl or another S.C. all-star game, the North-South, one final chance to play.

And it was a success.

Before the game, the Metro Bowl teams held a toy drive that generated hundreds of gifts for Columbia-area underprivileged kids, just before Christmas.

“It meant I get one more chance to ride with my teammates,” game MVP Dewey Greene told The State newspaper in Columbia. “I did feel like I was being overlooked, but this game was a great thing and great for the community.”

In Mecklenburg County, participating schools will be able to nominate players for the Queen City game. Collins said candidates must be academically eligible and “in good standing” with their programs to be eligible.

Teams will be selected in October by a special committee and will be announced via a live streaming show next month.

“There’s still a lot of talent in this city,” Collins said, “that if they had an opportunity to play in an all-star game and get seen by college recruiters for one week like they do at the Shrine Bowl, it could do a lot of those kids’ careers. We’re just hoping to give them that chance.”