SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Army News Service, Jan. 6, 2007) - Soldiers, players and Hall of Fame greats shared center stage to honor some of the nation's top high school football players during an awards dinner sponsored by the U.S. Army. The awards banquet, held at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in San Antonio, set the stage for the Army-sponsored "All-American" Bowl that pitted the nation's top high school football players in an East versus West match-up.
Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard A. Cody, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston presented the Army award for top player and service to community.
All-American High School Football Player of the Year was awarded to Jimmy Clausen from Westlake Village, Calif. Clausen will be starting freshman quarterback for Notre Dame next season.
Gen. Cody spoke to the players on behalf of the Soldiers fighting for their freedom. "Soldiers ask for very little," he said. "They need good equipment, to have their families taken care of, and not to be forgotten. They are 'Army Strong' because tonight we are America strong." He reiterated the connection between the Soldiers and players by saying that when both are on the field "losing is not an option."
San Antonio mayor Phil Hardberger welcomed both Soldiers and players to "Military City, USA," making a connection between the U.S. Army and football.
"It [All-American Bowl] is a great tradition for us," he said. "A showcase for excellence because athletes distinguish themselves on the football field, while Soldiers distinguish themselves on the battlefield."
Anthony Munoz, former Cincinnati Bengals great and Hall of Fame member, was the guest speaker at the dinner. He addressed the players about education, leadership and teamwork. "Leadership is making decisions that are not going to benefit just you, but the people around you," he said. "Like the Army, without every individual working together as a team, you won't complete the mission or win the game."
The Adams USA National Coach of the Year Award went to John McKissick from Summerville, SC. Arrielous Benn from Washington, D.C., received the EAS Speed and Strength Walter Payton Award. The Ironman of the Year Award, for excelling in offense, defense and special teams, went to Marc Tyler from Westlake Village. The "Doc" Blanchard Army Award went to Aaron Nagel from Lemont, Ill., while the Glenn Davis Army Award was presented to Ryan Mallett from Texarkana, Texas. The Davis and Blanchard awards honor one player from each squad who stands out for their community service efforts.
Country music sensation Lonestar kicked off the night by singing the national anthem, with entertainment provided by the U.S. Army Chorale.