Ferriday football coach, local players to travel to all-star game in California

Published 11:37 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2018

During his first year leading the Trojans, Ferriday High School football coach Stanley Smith is adding yet another feat to his résumé.

Smith will coach a Louisiana and Southwest Mississippi-based team of high schoolers in an all-star game this weekend in Santa Clarita, Calif., as a part of an academically focused organization called Plays and Grades, Inc.

Smith’s team will be composed of 43 players, including eight players from Ferriday High, as well as one each from Adams County Christian School and Trinity Episcopal.

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The three-day event for seniors only is called the California Classic, and scheduled to participate are Ferriday’s Dantrieze Scott, Sam Johnson, Jerrius Scott, Lewis Matthews, Adrian Turner, TJ Swanson and Jyrese Johnson. ACCS’ Cris Thompson and Trinity’s Dee Fleming will also participate. Ferriday’s Dare Rosenthal is planning on traveling with the team, but is not scheduled to play in the game on Sunday.

“It’s going to be a great event, and I really think we are going to be represented well,” Smith said. “I think we’ve got a good team put together.”

Smith said he knew earlier this year that he would likely be selected to coach the Louisiana team, but that his team was not finalized until after Ferriday ended its football season in early December. Last year, former Ferriday coach Dwight Woods attended the event as a speaker and got the ball rolling for one of the first teams to be established outside of California. There will also be a team based out of Texas.

“We were selected because of our test scores,” Smith said. “They wanted to see what we were doing to tie athletics with what we are doing academically. I couldn’t really put my hands on it until we were finished, but we got some kids together from all over the state. It was really a collective effort.”

Smith said he and his team will leave Friday headed for Los Angeles. While he isn’t sure whether any of his players have ever been to California, Smith said he is aware that some have never been on an airplane. Along for the ride, Smith is also bringing Ferriday offensive coordinator Kenny Kitchen to serve as an assistant during the game.

“I’m sure there will be some anxiety, but this is a great opportunity for me and the kids to experience the atmosphere somewhere else,” Smith said. “Hopefully they can learn some things they can take with them for the rest of their lives. Everyone is really excited.”

During the weekend’s festivities, the athletes will attend a banquet where they will be recognized for their achievements on Saturday afternoon. On Saturday morning, Smith said, they will travel to schools including the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles for academic tours.

The Louisiana team is scheduled to play the LA County South team in the second of three games on Sunday, starting at approximately 11 a.m. Representatives from the Southeastern Conference, Pac-12, ACC, Big 12, Big 10 and independent and Division II schools will be on hand to watch the games.

The games will be held at Valencia High School.

“I want to of course win,” Smith said. “This is a chance to see where we stand up against others in the nation. We are going to go out and try and see what we can do.”