The state championships have all been decided, but high school football isn’t finished quite yet.
Lambert High School will play host to the annual Chamber Bowl Senior All-Star Game for the first time on Saturday, as some of the top local seniors in the area get one last chance to compete on the varsity gridiron.
The fourth annual event joins 50 players from Forsyth County schools and north Fulton County schools to form a North All-Star team that will face a South All-Star squad comprised of players from south Fulton schools like Roswell, Centennial and Holy Innocents. The contest was started in 2009 to give players an added opportunity to be seen by college recruiters.
West Forsyth linebacker Josh Salo finished the 2012 season with 85 tackles, three interceptions and four forced fumbles for a West Forsyth squad that was ranked No. 5 in Class 6A much of the season, but the senior has not made a decision about where he will play in college. Salo said the all-star game offers a mix of sentimental value and opportunity for the future.
"To me, it’s another time to play with my friends," Salo said. "I’ve played with these kids since I was a little kid. To get one more [game] is nice. ... It’s another shot and opportunity to get looked at by college coaches."
West is one of 13 teams represented on an all-star squad that includes athletes from Lambert, North Forsyth, South Forsyth, Forsyth Central, Pinecrest Academy, Northview, Milton, Johns Creek, North Georgia Academy, St. Francis, King’s Ridge and the North Georgia Falcons.
South Forsyth senior Jantzen Jeffrey, one of three quarterbacks for the North All-Stars, already knows he likely will sign with either Air Force or The Citadel, but Saturday’s game presents an opportunity to make up for lost time during his final varsity season. Jeffrey missed action in four games due to a shoulder injury.
Though the all-star players are only able to practice together for a single week, Jeffrey said the learning curve isn’t as steep as one might think.
"It’s not too bad," Jeffrey said. "I’ve got a bunch of guys helping me out and stuff. It’s all relatively the same things I used to do at South."
Like its roster, the North All-Star team’s coaching staff is made up of a collection of different schools, led this year by Lambert head coach Sid Maxwell.
Maxwell said the coaching staff has to take an entirely different approach to the all-star game — one where less is more.
"You let big-time players make big-time plays," Maxwell said. "You get them lined up in simplified schemes on offense and defense and let them be football players.
"You have to simplify. You can’t do too much."
The North All-Stars won the inaugural Chamber Bowl in 2009, but the South has dominated each of the past two years, including a 49-0 rout last season. Lambert lineman Christian Grey believes this will be the year that the series swings back to the North.
"I like [our chances] a lot," Grey said. "We’ve got some guys who work hard and can take it to the next level. We’re going to take it to the South squad."
Said Maxwell: "We’ve got our work cut out for us based on past performances. But these guys are pretty fired up and ready to go, and we’re looking forward to the challenge."
The Chamber Bowl will kick off at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lambert High School.