Two local players and a coach will be part of Michigan’s high school football world’s elite in the state’s annual All-Star Game.
The rosters and coaching staff have been announced for the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association’s annual East-West All-Star Game on June 25 at Lawrence Tech University.
Melvin Nelson of Battle Creek Central and Chris Castle of Harper Creek made the cut as players.
And to coach those players, along with the combined 70 All-Stars, Battle Creek Central head coach Lorin Granger and Bearcat assistant Jerry Miller, who will be part of the West’s coaching staff.
“It’s one of those things I’ve always wanted to do, to be able to coach in this game,” Granger said. “You kind of hope to get selected, but you don’t have too much control over that. You just have to be patient and hope someone notices and you get selected.”
For Nelson and Castle, it’s the last time they’ll be able to dress for a high school football game, with many All-Stars preparing to play for their future varsity teams in the fall.
Nelson was picked for the team as a catcher after his stellar senior year for the Bearcats. A two-time All-City draft pick and three-year college player, Nelson was a leader on and off the field for Battle Creek Central, with over 800 receiving yards. Nelson, a versatile performer who also returned punts and kicks for the Bearcats, helped BCC score 3-6 in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference.
“Melvin was a really good player for us, really a go-to player in our passing game,” Granger said. “He’s not going to play college football. I thought he had the skills to play at the top level, but that wasn’t what he wanted to do anymore. But I’m glad to see him get one more game. “
Castle was selected as a defensive back and hopes to play college football, but has yet to receive a suitable offer for his situation. Castle was an All-City selection for league champion Beavers, who finished 7-4 on aggregate, and was a versatile contributor who could run or catch the ball and play on special teams. A player in all leagues and regions, Castle had over 1,000 all-around yards and averaged 30 yards on kickoff returns and over 20 yards on kickoff returns.
Castle is just the 10th person in Harper Creek history to be selected to the All-Star team and the first since 2017.
“It’s an honor for Chris to be named to this team,” said Harper Creek coach Mason Converse. “He was chosen because the selection committee loved his explosiveness, his ability to cover and his speed.
“Chris wants to play next year and has opportunities for some favorite places and he hopes playing in the All-Star Game will help him.”
Playing with and against the best in the state is the most exciting part for players. Being sidelined for all of that is a bonus for the coaches too.
“A lot of these guys in this game are going to play college football all over the country,” Granger said. “It’ll be pretty neat to get to know them before they go on that journey. Maybe a few of the kids end up doing something big at the next level and the staff guys can say, ‘J trained this child “- even if it was only for a few days.”
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