Throughout the 2020 football season, Bosqueville quarterback Luke Bradshaw grew accustomed to watching Jay King break off big yards on the ground.
But in Saturday’s Super Centex Victory Bowl, Bradshaw and King became a dynamic pass-catch combo.
Bradshaw found King for touchdown passes of 42 and 34 yards to lift the Blue squad to a 33-20 win over the Red team Saturday morning at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes all-star game at Midway’s Panther Stadium.
Bradshaw was named the game’s most valuable offensive player as he hit King for five catches for 92 yards.
“We got some chemistry,” Bradshaw said. “For him to transition from running back to receiver and still being able to dominate on the field doesn’t surprise me. He’s such a great kid and a hard worker.”
King didn’t hesitate to move to receiver when Holland coach Brad Talbert and his Blue coaching staff asked him to make the switch in practices leading up to the game.
“I never played a day of receiver in my life.” King said. “Coaches told me to go there and I did. I had to learn how to catch the ball and you’ve got to be good with your feet and have a connection with the quarterback. It was really fun.”
Seniors from schools throughout Central Texas populated the Blue and Red teams. The coaching staffs also featured volunteers across the area with Talbert leading the Blue team and Whitney coach Mark Byrd heading the Red squad.
“It’s fun to see kids come together and not be afraid to express things and share things together,” Talbert said. “The times we’re living in right now, it was a great week. It was awesome. I needed this. I think all kids have good talent. It was a tough game and people got their money’s worth.”
The Red squad struck first when Hamilton’s Colby Bailey spotted Crawford’s Tanner Merenda for 46 yards before Axtell’s Koby Hollingsworth grabbed a 29-yard scoring pass to take a 6-0 lead with 7:26 left in the first quarter.
Hollingsworth enjoyed a big day as he made five catches for 75 yards and two scores.
But the Blue team answered quickly as Mildred’s Daniel Ayers spotted Rice’s Kobe Jessie for a 33-yard scoring pass to take a 7-6 lead with 2:35 left in the first quarter.
After Waco High’s Tyron Minnitt recovered a fumble at the Red 16, Eagle Christian’s David SwanSidi nailed an 18-yard field goal to give the Blue squad a 10-6 lead with 7:18 left in the second quarter.
The Red team survived another Blue scoring threat when Killeen Shoemaker’s Brandon Cray recovered Bradshaw’s fumble at the one. But the Blue team nailed Merenda for a safety on the next play to take a 12-6 lead.
Bradshaw then spotted King cruising alone down the right sideline for a 42-yard touchdown pass to stretch the lead to 19-6 with 4:47 left in the second quarter.
The Red team got a break when Crawford’s Cooper Gohlke intercepted Ayers’ pass and returned it to the Blue 17 to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by former Pirates’ teammate Garrett Pearson. Bailey ran for the two-point conversion to cut Blue’s lead to 19-14 with 6:45 left in the third quarter.
A lineman at Crawford, Gohlke moved to linebacker during the week and earned the game’s most valuable defensive player.
“O-line is my pride and joy but linebacker is fun,” Gohlke said. “I always wanted to get an interception, and to do it in the FCA Bowl is just incredible. I saw the quarterback’s eyes and he kind of lobbed it up, and I saw the ball and grabbed it. It’s something I always dreamed of.”
The Blue team gained a little distance when Bradshaw connected again to King for a 34-yard touchdown with 8:08 left in the fourth quarter.
Holland’s Ayden Tomasek sealed the Blue win when he busted loose for a 20-yard touchdown run with 2:34 remaining. Bailey hit Hollingsworth with a 16-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game.
No matter who won the game, all the players were glad to connect in a Christian environment for five practices and Saturday’s game.
“The FCA is such a great experience,” Bradshaw said. “I’ll never forget this moment. It was awesome because there are so many people from all across Texas. Being able to go out and practice in these temperatures with these guys is exciting.”
For all of them, one last game as high school players with former teammates or athletes they had competed against or heard about was special.
“All the friendships I’ve made are incredible,” Gohlke said. “Anyone who ever gets a chance to do this, I’d do it. We acted like we played together for years. All of our teammates, although we might not have liked each other at one point on the field, we all got together and acted like we had been friends for years.”