Future Cougs shine in all-star game

SPOKANE -- Shelton Danzy reported earlier this week that Brandon Gibson, his teammate on the West squad and his future teammate at Washington State, looked like a man among boys in preparations for the state of Washington's Class 3A/4A East-West all-star football game. In Friday night's annual classic, Gibson turned Danzy's words into prophecy.

Gibson, a 4.4 speedster who has added about 20 pounds of muscle to his 6-1 frame over the last year and now tips the scales at 190, caught 12 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. He was voted West MVP.

"I had a great time this week with a good group of players," said Gibson. "I wish we could have come away with the win today. I can't wait to be a Coug."

The Rogers of Puyallup product also played cornerback and delivered one of the evening's biggest hits as he broke up a pass.

SURE-HANDED AND FEARLESS, Gibson made several grabs in a crowded secondary that was zeroed in on him but was unable to slow him down. During practice earlier in the week Danzy had commented the biggest difference is Gibson's extra muscle enables him to power through press coverage, whereas before he used technique and moves to break it.

Gibson is very gifted, and on a night when 60 of the state's best football players came together for their final game as prep athletes, he was clearly the best on the field. The big question for Gibson at WSU is where he will play --- receiver or cornerback.

He projects at receiver but coach Bill Doba has also said he has the tools to play cornerback. All things being equal, however, his future looks to be on offense.

Gibson's efforts on offense Friday night weren't enough to lift the West to victory, however, as the East prevailed 31-14.

GIBSON WASN'T the only future Cougar who made his mark in the game played at Spokane's Central Valley High. Shadle Park receiver/kicker Andy Largent, who will walk on at WSU, caught a 75-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to cap the East's scoring fest. At the throwing end of the play was Tavita Pritchard, the Stanford-bound son of early 80s Cougar player David Pritchard.

Another Cougar walk-on-to-be, first-team All-State linebacker David Sari of Kelso, was named recipient of the Lynn Rosenbach Memorial Award. The award -- named after the long-time high school coach, former WSU administrator and father of legendary Cougar Timm Rosenbach -- recognizes dedication, sportsmanship, attitude and athleticism. Sari was the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League player of the year in 2004.

THREE OTHER FUTURE Cougars were knocking heads Friday for the West: Danzy, a defensive back from Seattle's Rainier Beach High; offensive lineman Kenny Alfred of Gig Harbor; and quarterback/defensive back Jared Prince of North Kitsap who will be playing baseball at WSU.

Though he'll likely play on the interior at Washington State, Alfred manned the left tackle spot for the West squad. He was matched up most of the night against Lewis & Clark's Josh Shaw, a future Idaho Vandal and the brother of Cougar receiver Carl Shaw.

Alfred didn't get a chance to show off his run-blocking prowess much in the aerial show that was the 2005 East-West All-Star Summer Classic, but displayed good balance and active hands and feet at the showcase position on the offensive line.

Danzy said Alfred bulldozed everything in front of him during practice week. "He's just a beast," said Danzy. "He's a grown man. I told him I'm glad you're not in my house 'cause I wouldn't be eating. They can double team him, whatever, he's moving everything they put in front of him. Not just strength either, he has great technique. He's kind of quiet but when he's on the football field, he's talking loud enough for anyone to hear him."

Alfred already has been slotted into the Cougars' three-deep depth chart. He's penned in as the No. 3 center behind Nick Mihlhauser and Josh Duin.

Danzy had something of a quiet evening. Though the East threw for 284 yards, they weren't testing the former Rainier Beach Vikings' side of the field much at all. The Metro League all-star played safety as well as corner, and returned a kickoff 25 yards.

"It's hard to end my high school career with a loss," said Danzy, who will be arriving in Pullman on July 15. "But I just feel fortunate that I have the ability to play on Saturdays and continue my (football) career."

Jason Hickman is a former Assistant Director for Media Relations for Washington State, his alma mater. He now resides in Puyallup and is the Northwest Regional Director for MaxPreps.

J.V. Holland contributed to this report.

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