A younger J.D. Tuten watched from the sidelines in 2007 as his father, Mike Tuten, helped guide the Thomas Heyward Academy football team to a region championship thanks in part to a handful of Shrine Bowlers.
J.D. Tuten was still a ways away from being able to take part in the action with the rest of his high schoolers at that point. But that didn't stop him from establishing some lofty goals for his future career with the Rebels.
"Growing up with my dad coaching, he had guys going to the Shrine Bowl," he said. "I knew this is where I wanted to be. I've been watching guys get there."
Tuten can consider his dream a realization. The Rebels' senior quarterback and three other area football players have been named to the eighth annual Oasis Shrine All-Star Classic, a postseason matchup that pits the best independent school athletes from South Carolina against those from North Carolina. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on Nov. 24 at Coach Joe Popp Stadium in Mooresville, N.C.
"I had some guys from my school get there and finally it's my turn," Tuten said. "I made it, so I'm pretty happy."
Tuten will have some friends joining him, in particular senior backfield mate Ryan Day. The Rebels' SCISAA Region 2-AA rivals, Hilton Head Christian Academy, will also be sending a pair of representatives in tailback Tyler Chisholm and corner Jamario Williams.
It's the third consecutive year that the Eagles have seen at least two players selected, coach Tommy Lewis said.
"We've been real fortunate over the years to have at least one kid on the team each year," Lewis said. "To have two is just a tremendous honor. They picked two good ones."
The trio of offensive performers stamped their cases for bids thanks to a strong individual seasons. Day has rushed for more than 1,200 yards this season to go along with 22 touchdowns, both of which are tops in the area. Tuten isn't far behind, and may have surprassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark had he been able to stay healthy a week ago against Hilton Head Christian. The senior has rushed for more than 800 yards through nine games and has totaled 22 total touchdowns so far.
The Eagles, meanwhile, have reeled off seven consecutive victories due in part to the running of Chisholm. The junior, despite playing behind a new crop of lineman this season, has put together over 700 yards on the ground with nine touchdowns while also connecting on 4 of 7 field goals with a long of 52 yards.
"I'm just glad that all of that hard work and the coaches pushing me to get to the next level actually paid off," he said. "I'm just glad I get to represent my team in the All-State game."
Williams has made some big plays of his own on offense, as the senior has emerged as the downfield threat in the passing game while also making his usual contributions on defense. He has amassed more than 300 yards in receptions with four scores and has also picked up a pair of key interceptions, the latest of which sealed the 20-13 upset win over Tuten and Thomas Heyward last Friday.
The defender has offers from Arizona and Wofford to his credit and plans on taking official visits to both schools as well as Kentucky. A strong all-star performance could go a long way toward more schools jumping on board, like North Carolina and Navy, who also continue to show interest.
"If I go out there and have a great Shrine Bowl, I can show the college coaches I'm ready to play and can be a great asset to their team," Williams said.
8th annual Oasis Shrine All-Star Classic
1 p.m. Nov. 24, Coach Joe Popp Stadium, Mooresville, N.C.
South Carolina roster
Paul Amick, Ben Lippen School
Jacob August, Cardinal Newman School
Joe Bates, Pinewood Preparatory School
Shelton Blue, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School
Cheyenne Bodie, W.W. King Academy
Gabe Bradner, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School
Cody Brewerton, Palmetto Christian Academy
Tyler Chisholm, Hilton Head Christian Academy
Andrew Clinkscales, Wilson Hall
Roo Daniels, Hammond School
Ryan Day, Thomas Heyward Academy
Zack Felkel, Orangeburg Preparatory School
Heath Fisk, Colleton Preparatory School
Rickie Ford, Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School
Nick Garrick, Orangeburg Preparatory School
Brantly Gray, Thomas Sumter Academy
Reed Grubbs, Orangeburg Preparatory School
Matt Herzwurm, Augusta Christian Academy
Alex Hollis, Oakbrook Preparatory School
Christopher Kellahan, Williamsburg Academy
Austin Lipski, Bible Baptist Christian School
James McClary, Florence Christian School
Quayshon Myers, Hammond School
Trey Pierce, Porter-Gaud School
Tyler Renew, Ben Lippen Scool
Tyler Robinson, Augusta Christian Academy
Thomas Rogers, Porter-Gaud School
Horace Scott, Wilson Hall
Braden Shockley, Hammond School
Phillip Shuler, Wilson Hall
Mulik Simmons, Bible Baptist
Falcon Stewart, Northwood Academy
Sean Sweeting, Augusta Christian
Tashawn Taylor, Laurence Manning Academy
J.D. Tuten, Thomas Heyward Academy
Jamario Williams, Hilton Head Christian
Head Coach: Reggie Shaw (Ben Lippen School)
Assistant coaches: Jolly Doolittle (W.W. King Academy), David Rankin (Williamsburg Academy), Philip Keefe (Northwood Academy)
North Carolina roster
Demitri Allison, SouthLake Christian Academy
Charles Beale, Christ School
Gabe deBeus, Christ School
Blake Brewer, Cannon School
Rockill Brown, High Point Christian Academy
Travis Brown, Victory Christian Center School
Kenny Bumgardner, SouthLake Christian Academy
Nate Casey, Westminster Catawba Christian School
Schuyler Coleman, Davidson Day School
John Cook, North Raleigh Christian Academy
Andrew Davenport, Arendell Parrott Academy
Matt Earman, North Raleigh Christian Academy
Chase Ferguson, Providence Day School
Bryon Fields, Providence Day School
Reavis Ford, Charlotte Country Day School
Evan Gates, Davidson Day School
Keshawn Holiday, Hickory Grove Christian School
Jonathan Jackson, Word of God Christian Academy
Christian Jewkes, Christ School
Coleman Johnson, Forsyth Country Day School
Brian Jones, SouthLake Christian Academy
Dez Lawrence, Charlotte Christian School
Zach Myers, Charlotte Christian School
Damien Nwobi, Victory Christian Center School
Gerrel Patton, Hickory Grove Christian Academy
Alex Pourlos, Providence Day School
Michael Radford, Charlotte Country Day
Will Barefoot, Ravenscroft School
Andrew Robinson, Charlotte Christian School
Aaron Seward, Davidson Day School
Casty St. Louis, Word of God Christian Academy
Royce Turnbull, Charlotte Country Day
Russell Washington, Harrells Christian Academy
Jake Wentworth, Westminster Catawba Christian Academy
Sheldon Williams, First Assembly Christian School
Sam Wilson, Charlotte Latin School
Head coach: Mark Moroz (Christ School)
Assistant coaches: Rob Lewis (Forsyth County Day), Ben McGarity (Providence Day), Kevin Washington (Forsyth County Day)