By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
There are different approaches for former Williams football teammates Jaelan Brown and Grayson Loy when it comes to the North Carolina East-West All-Star Game.
Yet it’s bound to be a meaningful experience for both players.
Brown, a quarterback who was the Central 3-A Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2022, is using the showcase as a tune-up for what’s ahead.
“I’m looking forward to the coaching,” Brown said. “I want to come out better than I go in.”
Brown’s stop next month will be as a freshman competing for playing time at Guilford College.
Loy figures this is his last hurrah in a football uniform. He still carries a team mentality when it comes to this summer event.
“It’s going to potentially be the end of my football career,” said Loy, a linebacker and long snapper. “I’m interested to see how we’re going to figure out this team bond in these few days we have together.”
Teams gather for the start of workouts Friday in Greensboro. The game is set for 8:00 p.m. Wednesday at Jamieson Stadium on the Grimsley High School campus in Greensboro. Brown and Loy will be in the West team along with Eric Ainsworth out of Eastern Guilford.
Brown accounted for 30 touchdowns as a Williams senior, throwing for 26 touchdowns and rushing for four more. He passed for more than 2,100 yards in 12 games during his second season as the Bulldogs’ starter.
Brown, who was also a guard for the Williams boys’ basketball team, said getting into a game-week groove for football should be a good preparation going into preseason camp at Guilford.
“I’ve been playing quarterback over a solid amount of time,” he said, but noted that entering college “it’s exciting and a little bit of nervousness.”
Yet the North Carolina East-West All-Star Game should come without certain pressures.
“I’m also going up there to have a good time,” Brown said.
While there wasn’t a game to prepare for in recent months, Brown focused on self-improvement. He packed on about a dozen pounds up to 173.
“I thought it was something I needed to do – get bigger,” he said.
Loy has had a different mindset as he prepares to enter North Carolina State, where he’ll major in business administration, next month. He has sensed his football days winding down since he was a three-year starter as a linebacker and long snapper for the Bulldogs.
“I’ve been getting out into the world without football,” he said.
Football has been well-entrenched with the Loy family. His father, Bo Loy, played center for Wake Forest in the mid-1990s, and three distant relatives were also in the Demon Deacons program.
Loy led Williams in 2022 tackles with 137 as part of a senior-rich defensive unit. Coach Patrick Stokes of the Bulldogs said he was encouraged about Loy’s potential for the next level, but college football’s changing landscape with the transfer portal and eligibility extended for players because of the pandemic might have squashed some of those opportunities.
So the North Carolina East-West All-Star Game serves a different type of purpose for Loy.
“During the playoffs, you didn’t know if it was going to be your last game,” he said. “So this is going to be great to close out my career.”
Loy said he hopes he and Brown can put on display the type of teammate relationships that were formed on the Williams team and that mindset will translate to their temporary West teammates during the week together.
This is the final North Carolina East-West All-Star Game scheduled for summer. Following the 2023 high school season, the game will be played in December and that’s expected to be the time frame for the annual game going forward.