West beats East in All-American Bowl
January 7, 2007
SAN ANTONIO - America's best high school football players and more than 80 "Soldier-Heroes" shared a nationally-televised stage at the 2007 U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome here.
The West All-Stars defeated the East All-Stars 24-7 in front of a record All-American Bowl crowd of 35,151.
The Alamodome crowd was filled with Army Combat Uniform-clad soldiers. At least four stadium sections were filled by Advanced Individual Training students from Fort Sam Houston.
During breaks in the game, the stadium's big screens would play commercials from the new "Army Strong" advertising campaign.
The commercials would spark a spontaneous and loud "Hooah" from the stands, and inspire a large number AIT soldiers to stand at attention and shout the Soldier's Creed in unison.
During the "Army Strong Pre-game" more than 80 soldiers who have been awarded a Bronze Star, Silver Star or Purple Heart were honored as "Soldier Heroes." As the all-star athletes emerged on the field they greeted a "Soldier Hero" at midfield before heading to their sideline.
Capt. Scotty Smiley, an Accessions Command soldier who was blinded during a suicide car bombing in Iraq but has fought to stay in the Army, flipped the coin during the opening coin toss.
Smiley, a Pasco, Wash. native, joked that he was selected because "they just knew my thumb just worked that well."
"I love every opportunity to be an example for the Army," Smiley said.
At halftime, 100 Delayed Entry Program soldiers from the San Antonio area marched onto the field to take the oath of enlistment from Gen. Richard A. Cody, Vice Chief of Staff, United States Army.
Bryan Elkins, and 18-year-old Lehman High School student from San Marcos, Texas said he was proud to take the oath.
"I love the military, and I've always wanted to serve my country," Elkins said.
Additionally, Gen. William S. Wallace, commander, Training and Doctrine Command, administered the oath of office to two officers.
2nd Lt. Jennifer Oviedo, formerly a St. Mary's college Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadet, and 2nd Lt. Daniel Barnhart, formerly a University of Texas-San Antonio cadet, were - in Cody's words - the "the Army's newest lieutenants."
"It was Awesome. How many people can say that they had a general officer administer their oath," Oviedo said.
West All-Star Ian Harris, the nation's 24th best tight end prospect according to Scout.com, said he appreciates the sacrifices the more than 80 "Soldier-Heroes" have made.
"What the soldiers do is intense. You cannot compare that to football," he said.
The game provided soldiers an opportunity to meet former NFL players, notable contemporary music acts and NASCAR icon Mark Martin.
Martin, who will co-drive the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet during the 2007 Nextel Cup season, signed autographs for every soldier who asked.
Former Washington Redskins kick returner Brian Mitchell, the NFL's second all time leader in total yardage, was born in Fort Polk, La., and his father had a 20-year Army career. He watched the game from the sidelines, signing autographs and talking with soldiers.
"My dad passed in '91, and it is nice to see first hand the discipline that he talked about. I have a lot of respect for soldiers. Because anyone who puts their life on the line - you must respect that," he said.
During the NBC-televised game, a few heralded football recruits announced where they would play their college football. Additionally, Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston presented Notre Dame-recruit Jimmy Clausen the trophy he received for winning the U.S. Army Player of the Year Award.
Over 30 AIT students moved stagecraft to and from the field during the event's myriad ceremonies and musical interludes.
Pvt. Kacie Kremer, an AIT soldier from Lancaster, Calif., volunteered to push the stage out for country music's Lonestar, who performed a 45-minute concert in honor of Soldiers and their families after the game.
"We are pumped up," she said.
Many "Soldier Heroes" honored at the game and during the Lonestar performance said the game was the perfect finale to a week of All-American Bowl celebrations.
Staff Sgt. Jamal Robinson, A Troop, 2-1 Cavalry, Fort Lewis, Wash., said the game and surrounding events were exciting.
"It just gives you a good feeling to be a part of a great organization," Robinson said.