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Cougars enjoy all-star experience

By Kevin Eckleberry

kevin.eckleberry@lagrangenews.com

LAGRANGE – It was a special day for a pair of Lafayette Christian School Cougars, who got to represent their school on their home field during an all-star game on Saturday afternoon.

Each year, the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association holds an all-star game after the season has been completed.

This year’s all-star game was held at Lafayette Christian’s brand-new stadium, and the game was played on Saturday afternoon in chilly and drizzly conditions.

It was an exciting game.

The Red team, of which Lafayette Christian’s Jonathan Parham and Josh Shepherd were members, built a 17-0 lead, but it was the White team rallying in the second half for a 28-27 win.

The Red team was driving at the  end, but the game ended on a disputed fumble.

The Red team quarterback was trying to spike the ball to set up a potential game-winning field-goal attempt, but the referees ruled that he lost control of the ball and fumbled it.

Despite that disappointing ending, it was an enjoyable day for Parham and Shepherd, who were happy to represent their school on the gridiron one more time.

“We got to play on our home field one last time,” Shepherd said. “It was special. It felt great.”

Lafayette Christian’s season ended with a loss in the semifinals of the state playoffs, and Parham found out soon after that he wasn’t done with the game as a high-school player.

“It felt like my season wasn’t over,” Parham said. “We had another game to play. It felt very good. It was amazing.”

Nate Shaw of Lafayette Christian was the head coach for the Red team, and he was happy that folks from across the state got an opportunity to enjoy the school’s new stadium.

“It’s a mixture of eight-man and 11-man players, so there were a lot of schools that came on campus that we’ll never play in football,” Shaw said. “They got to be at our place. The coaches and players all enjoyed the digs. There’s a quality to it. The booster club did a good job. And Nick (Nehring) did a good job as the AD. I thought it showed out well. There was a sense of pride.”

The two teams each had a couple of days to prepare for the game.

They each held a total of four practices spanning Thursday and Friday, and then on Saturday, it was time to play.

The Red team dominated the first half, and then the White team rallied in the second half and held on at the end.

The two Lafayette Christian players both performed well.

Parham played linebacker and was on the special-teams units, and Shepherd was a defensive lineman and tight end.

Parham made a big defensive play late in the game.

The White team had an opportunity to run the clock out with a first down, but Parham made a tackle for loss on third down to force a punt.

“John showed out,” Shaw said. “He really impressed some of the other coaches with his skills.”

Shepherd, meanwhile, was thrilled to be on the field considering where he was midway through the season.

Shepherd injured his knee during a game and he wasn’t sure if he’d be back at all, but he returned late in the year and helped the Cougars reach the final four.

“I missed half my season,” Shepherd said. “To come back and play in an all-star game at home, it felt great.”

Shepherd said it was a pleasure to be around so many outstanding players.

“It’s the best in the state,” Shepherd said. “You’re coming to work for two-a-days. The plays we learned, it was hard, but we came out and executed. We pulled together.”