Falkville's Shadden and Hartselle's Billings to join All-Star team traveling to New Zealand
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
While their classmates and teammates are back home spending their days in the sun and enjoying their summer break, Falkville's Cory Shadden and Hartselle's Justin Billings will be spending their summers in cold weather down under.
They'll be playing football south of the equator.
Shadden and Billings will be members of a team of All-Stars from Alabama and Kentucky that will travel to Auckland, New Zealand, in July as part of the DIR Down Under Bowl program. Tommy Posey, who graduated from Danville and currently lives in Kentucky, is the coach for that team and was the one who contacted Shadden and Billings about joining.
"The South has some good football, and since I'm from Alabama I wanted to get a team of the best seniors I could find down there," Posey said. "Hartselle's football tradition speaks for itself and I knew that Cory was a great wide receiver for Falkville's team."
The All-Star team Posey coaches will number around 35 players, with 11 to 12 expected to come from Alabama and the rest from Kentucky. The team will leave July 3 and after a few days of practice it will participate in an exhibition game in Auckland against a team of New Zealanders. If they win that game, they will play in the championship against either another team from New Zealand or a team of players from California and Washington. Posey's team has won the championship two years in a row.
In addition to the games, Posey's team will spend two weeks living in New Zealand with a host families, seeing the sights and spending time with other youth from both the United States and New Zealand. They will conclude their trip with a three-day stopover in Hawaii before returning home July 15.
"The biggest thing for me is the chance for these kids to play football," Posey said. "But there's other great aspects to this program. It gives these kids the chance to learn some things about other countries and also to learn to be more appreciative of the things they have here in the United States."
Shadden said he first heard about the program through a letter that asked interested seniors to attend a meeting at Danville High School. It was there that Shadden met Posey and became interested in being a part of the Down Under Bowl.
"I've never been out of the States before and I've always loved traveling," Shadden said. "I knew this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I didn't want to pass it up.
"I really enjoy playing football and knew this will probably be my last go-around so I figured I'd better take the chance to be a part of this experience."
Shadden has been a member of Falkville's varsity football team since ninth grade and played four years of youth football prior to being a Blue Devil. He is the first Falkville High School player to participate in the Down Under program, but may possibly be joined by teammate Blake Jump.
Billings was Hartselle's starting tight end and one of the Tigers' most reliable receiving threats. He made 18 catches for 165 yards and was a part of an offensive line that helped the Tigers rush for more than 2,000 yards in 2006.
Shadden saw action as both a wide receiver and a defensive back on a Falkville team that made the playoffs for the first time in six years. As a defensive back for the Blue Devils, Shadden made 64 tackles (40 solo) and had one interception.
Posey said that he plans to use Billings as a tight end on the Down Under team, and might use Shadden at wide receiver. There is another possibility for Shadden, as well.
"Right now, I might ask him to play a little quarterback for us too," Posey said. "For some reason we've got trouble getting quarterbacks to come down there, and I think Cory might do well playing that position some."
But before Shadden or Billings play a single down in kiwi country, they've got to raise the money to travel. And a trip like this doesn't come cheap – $3,600 to be exact.
Shadden said he has already asked everyone he knows for donations, but is not anywhere done trying to raise the money he needs. He plans to raise most of the money by selling meats at a barbecue at Charlie's Food Mart in Falkville June 10 (more information is below).
MORE INFORMATION ON CORY SHADDEN'S BARBECUE
June 10, Cory Shadden will be selling chickens and Boston butts at Charlie Food Mart in Falkville to raise money for his trip to New Zealand. The chickens will be $6.50 and the Boston butts $25. All profits will go directly into Shadden's trip fund. The meats will be prepared at Charlie's Food Mart but will need to be picked up by customers. For more information, you can call Charlie's Food Mart at 784-9228 or call Cory at 612-7523.