Dre’Shaun Sanders and Javion Shelby considered it an honor to represent Missouri on the football field on Thursday night. A bigger honor came from representing not only their state, but their neighborhood.
Sanders and Shelby graduated last month from Central Academy of Excellence. When the two teammates and friends were selected to play in the 27th annual BeYounion.com Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Game at Leavenworth High School, they became not only the first Interscholastic League players in some time to take part in the annual battle between the top high school players from Missouri and Kansas, they were also the first ever taken from Central.
“It means a lot to me,” said Shelby, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound quarterback. “It’s big honor having me and my friend selected to the all-Star game. And to be the first two makes it more of an honor.”
“It is a big honor,” said Sanders, a 6-0, 175 cornerback. “Since we're the first ones from Central, we feel like we are representing the inner city because we’re often overlooked by the bigger schools.
The rosters for both all-star teams are predominantly players from the suburban conferences: the Sunflower and East Kansas League in Kansas and the four Suburban Conference divisions in Missouri. The programs in those leagues generally have more resources and players to choose from.
That’s why Sanders and Shelby both savored the opportunity to show off the talent in the inner city.
“They make it seem like since we don’t have as many athletes per team, there isn’t a lot of talent,” Sanders said. “They just have to come to watch it.”
Sanders knows first-hand how hard that can be. He’s going to play for Missouri Western this fall, but he said getting them or any other school out to see him perform proved difficult.
“It was real hard,” Sanders said. “I didn’t get them to see me until after football season because I run track, too. When I go down there I’ll do both football and track.”
The two Central representatives had big things in mind as they took the field on a blazingly hot and humid evening.
“We came here to show off our talent and show there is talent in the inner city,” Shelby said.
Shelby led Missouri in rushing (6 carries for 21 yards) and receiving (2 catches for 48 yards) and was named Missouri's most valuable player for the game, which is presented by the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association.
But Kansas won 30-0 and broke a seven-game skid in the series. Missouri still leads the series 14-12.