In its sixth year, the Senior Bowl will mark the final time Cobb County’s best outgoing football players will get to represent their high schools on the gridiron.
All 21 of the county’s Georgia High School Association-affiliated programs are expected to have at least one representative taking part in the game, which pits the Americans against the Nationals.
The Nationals, coached by Osborne’s Xarvia Smith, lead the series 3-2 after the Americans snapped a three-game losing streak with a 33-28 victory last season. Four of the five games have been decided by five points or less, with the Nationals’ 41-19 win in 2010 the lone blowout.
The Nationals will feature players from Campbell, Harrison, Hillgrove, Kell, North Cobb, North Cobb Christian, Osborne, Pebblebrook, Walker and Walton.
The Americans, coached by Mount Paran Christian’s Mitch Jordan, will consist of players from Allatoona, Kennesaw Mountain, Lassiter, Marietta, McEachern, Mount Paran, Pope, Sprayberry, South Cobb, Wheeler and Whitefield Academy.
Smith’s Nationals squad is slated to have nine players from Harrison and eight each from Hillgrove, Walton, Walker and North Cobb. Pebblebrook will have seven, Campbell and Kell will each have six, with five coming from Osborne and one from North Cobb Christian.
“When I was younger and a freshman, I saw the seniors from North Cobb play in this game and I knew right then that I wanted to do it,” said Warriors wide receiver Xavier Borishade, who is considering scholarship offers from Middle Tennessee State, Wisconsin and Chattanooga, among others. “It’s a great opportunity to get exposure, and I’m thrilled to do it.
“It’s the last time in high school that I get to suit up for a game and I’m hoping to make the best of it. My mom didn’t get to see my last game (in the state semifinals at Lovejoy), so I wanted her to have a chance to see me play in my last high school game.”
Linebacker Josh Danforth is one of eight Lassiter players expected to suit up for Jordan’s Americans.
“I can’t wait to get out there,” said Danforth, a Tennessee-Martin commitment. “Practices have been great, and I’ve picked up a few things from the coaches. I’ve really enjoyed meeting new players from the other teams. It’s been a great experience.”
McEachern, Allatoona and South Cobb are also slated to have eight on the Americans’ roster, while Marietta will have the most at 11. Pope and Kennesaw Mountain (six each) will also contribute to the roster, as will Wheeler (five), Sprayberry and Mount Paran (four each) and Whitefield (three).
Marietta receiver Tyree Harris is also looking forward to playing for the Americans.
“Participating in a big event like this and playing against guys I’ve known has been fun,” said the Wake Forest-bound Harris. “It’s about competing, and I’ve gone against some great (defensive backs) in practice, so I’m looking forward to (today).”
Both squads have practiced almost every day this week, laying the groundwork for a great game and lasting relationships.
“It’s been a privilege to practice and play with these guys,” Borishade said. “A lot of them are going to some big schools, so it’s been great to meet them and talk and have fun. This will be the best of the best, and we want to show what we can do out there.”
New to this year’s game is a fifth quarter, designed as an opportunity for players to see more field time and as a tribute to two Cobb County football players who died during high school — Harrison’s Luke Abbate and McEachern’s Rajaan Bennett. Those two players wore No. 5 on their jerseys.
The families of Abbate and Bennett will be honored on the field during today’s festivities.