Stripling caps great summer for new Cougs

JASON STRIPLING'S nine-tackle hit parade earlier this week in the Texas high school all-star football classic put an exclamation mark on a summer of superlative post-season performances by incoming Cougars. Stripling, a linebacker from Tyler, Texas, was one of several soon-to-be Cougs who capped the ol' high school career in fine fashion.

In Fresno last month, quarterback Arkelon Hall engineered two scoring drives to pace the City squad to a 21-10 victory in the annual City/County All-Star game.

The 6-2, 204-pound Hall completed 12 of 22 passes for 181 yards, a TD and a two-point conversion. He also had one INT.

Among his highlights, a 58-yard aerial to the County 4-yard-line that set up his TD pass.

One long-time observer of the Fresno Valley prep scene called Hall's performance "impressive," noting the incoming Cougar is "a big, strong kid with a good arm."

Hall, by the way, was one of the first rookies to arrive in Pullman, along with JC transfer Lorenzo Bursey, as they look toward the start of practices on Aug. 7. Each enrolled in the late summer school session that began mid-June in order to get an academic head start and participate in the voluntary workouts.

IN SPOKANE, MEANWHILE, a host of future Cougars were lighting things up in the Class 3A/4A all-star game. Shelton Danzy ably manned the corner during the Class 3A/4A East-West all-star game but it was a lonely night for the former Rainier Beach star. Although the East threw for 284 yards, Danzy (5-10, 182) saw only a handful of passes come his way.

He still had his hat in on 11 tackles. Danzy also returned a kickoff for 25 yards.

"I was just happy that my Cougar teammates did so well and put some light on Washington State," said Danzy. "Any running yards we got on the ground, they basically came off Kenny's side and behind Kenny. All night, he was a rock on the line."

Kenny is Kenny Alfred, widely considered the No. 1 prep line prospect in the state of Washington last season. He's already penned in on WSU's three-deep roster -- at center behind Nick Mihlhauser and Josh Duin.

Alfred dominated up front but Brandon Gibson, even in defeat, was the big star of the night. He caught 12 balls for 113 yards and 1 TD and it could have been more -- he broke clear several more times but the quarterback didn't see him or was running for his life.

"He was wide open all night, just flambéing the defense," said Danzy of Gibson.

Gibson, who also looked good at cornerback, was named West MVP. He's expected to play receiver at WSU.

In addition, two players who will walk-on at WSU this fall made some hay in the game. Shadle Park receiver/kicker Andy Largent caught a 75-yard touchdown pass and first-team All-State linebacker David Sari of Kelso was named recipient of the Lynn Rosenbach Memorial Award for dedication, sportsmanship, attitude and athleticism.

DOWN IN TEXAS, a pair of incoming Cougars made their marks in all-star contests.

Jason Stripling racked up nine tackles for the North squad in the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star game.

Stripling (6-0, 215) was named district Defensive MVP this past season at Robert E. Lee High for his work primarily as a defensive back. He played 'backer in Tuesday's all-star game, as he will for the Cougs. A reporter covering the Texas prep scene was more than a little impressed by Stripling's work in the middle.

"He had a very, very good game -- he should do quite well for the Cougars," he said.

EARLIER THIS SUMMER, in the Oil Bowl in Wichita Falls, Texas, the prepsters from Oklahoma waxed their Texas counterparts 38-7 but incoming Cougar Greg Trent -- a 5-11, 225-pound speedster from Keller, Texas -- had a solid showing.

Trent, a linebacker, had 5 solo tackles in limited playing time, also taking the field on special teams. On one Texas kickoff, Trent raced down the field and destroyed the wedge, taking three players down with him.

XAVIER HICKS of Fullerton, Calif., helped lead the North squad to an 18-13 victory in the Orange County All-Star game earlier this month. Hicks, who will play safety for the Cougs, was named the ALL CIF-SS Division IX Defensive Player of the Year last season. The 6-1, 185-pounder was also first-team All CIF-SS for the second consecutive year.

Hicks, the nephew of former Washington State running back Kevin Hicks (1993-94), was yet another early arrival in the class of 2005, touching down in Pullman more than a week ago.

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