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HOUSTON - The football team at Galena Park (Texas) North Shore High School is always one of the best in the entire state of Texas. The Mustangs have former players on college rosters all over the country. However, Monday saw a first-of-its-kind honor for the school as two of its players were selected to participate in the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
With their families, as well as the entire varsity, junior varsity and sophomore teams, cheering them on in the field house, Rivals100 offensive lineman Trey Hopkins and wide receiver DeAndrew White both accepted invitations to the game to be held on Jan. 9. With only 90 players across the country receiving the honor of being invited to the contest, both said it was a great honor for two teammates to be included.
"It tells me that we're definitely doing great things with our program," said the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Hopkins. "We have multiple athletes that could be among the top 90 in the country. It's a good feeling for our whole team. I've been playing with DeAndrew since our freshman year and it'll be great to get to play with him on a national stage.
"I just want to thank all [my teammates] for this. It was strength of character, endurance and an overall love for team that got me here. I want you to know that I credit you all with this honor. Without you all, I couldn't have gotten this."
White echoed those same sentiments.
"It's a privilege that both of us will be playing in the game," said the 6-foot, 170-pound four-star prospect. "Trey and I will get to play together one last time. Hopefully in the future we'll get to play against each other and represent the North Shore program well.
"I want to thank everybody here for supporting us. I want to thank my teammates and my family. Like Trey said, without you all we wouldn't be able to do what we have done. I want to thank my coaches as well. It's just a privilege and an honor to be chosen to play in this game."
Mustang head coach David Aymond, who will be an assistant coach for the West team in the game, says it means a lot to the North Shore team and community to have two of its players honored.
"It's special for us," Aymond said. "I know it's only the elite that are selected. We've had one player selected before in Dajleon Farr years ago, but to have two players from the same school in the same year and also myself as one of the coaches, it's really an honor and a privilege."
Both Hopkins and White have grown up watching the Army game, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. They are proud to be included in the same group as many current NFL and college stars that are alumni of the game. They also feel they must represent their home state as well as their future colleges at the event.
"I've watched all the games before," said Hopkins, a University of Texas commitment who will be joined in the game by four future teammates. "I've seen Vince Young play in it, which is a real big thing for me. He's another UT player from Houston. I'm looking forward to playing with some more guys in this coming game that will be going to UT with me.
"Dominic Espinosa, the other offensive lineman that they are taking, is going to be playing in it and I've talked to him about it. Everything we do is representing somebody or something. With the game being in Texas, we want to represent the state of Texas and the University of Texas."
White, who is verbally committed to Alabama, is the third Tide pledge to be selected so far and looks forward to getting to know the others in San Antonio.
"I haven't found out who all from Alabama will be playing in the game, but I'm sure we'll all get to meet up and get pretty close once we get down there," he said. "I'm sure it's going to be competitive with some of them likely being on the East squad. It'll be fun to go against them but, at the end, we're all going to come together to represent the University of Alabama."
However, both players are grateful to even have the opportunity to showcase their abilities in the contest.
"I've watched the game a few times," White said. "I love the atmosphere and everything about the game. It's an honor and a privilege to be selected. I'm just blessed to be part of the top 90."
"It's a real big honor," said Hopkins. "When you think about how many players and athletes there are in the country, just to be one of the 90 to be selected is a real big honor."
Aymond did not want to miss the opportunity to thank not just the U.S. Army, but all military members. With Veterans' Day set to be celebrated this Wednesday, the coach made it a point to emphasize all that they have done for the country.
"I'd like to call everybody's attention to the fact that we enjoy so many privileges and freedoms here," Aymond said. "This is just one example of something that is made possible by soldiers and all serviceman who live part of their active lives overseas and fight on foreign lands to preserve the very freedom that we have to enjoy days like today, games on Friday nights and all the privileges we receive because we live in a free country that's protected by each and every serviceman that lives that life.
"We're appreciative of that and I'd like to dedicate the game this Friday to all servicemen everywhere who serve to protect us and defend our life and liberty and the great freedom that we have."
The 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl will be played at 1 p.m. Eastern on Jan. 9 and aired live on NBC.