When the players take the field today for the North-South All-Star Game at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in Myrtle Beach, Beaufort High's JaClay Mixon won't be there.
That doesn't mean he doesn't deserve to be.
Instead of suiting up for the final high school football game of his career, Mixon will spend part of his day preparing for college in a different way -- taking the ACT.
The Eagles running back turned in a stellar senior campaign, rolling up 1,687 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns in 11 games. Just for good measure, he added eight catches for 119 yards and a touchdown, as well as two sacks on defense.
But his numbers didn't get him an all-star invitation. When rosters were released in October, Mixon wasn't on the list.
"I thought I had a pretty good year," Mixon said.
And his mother, Yvette Mixon, and Beaufort High coach Mark Clifford were shocked.
"He busted his butt all year long," Clifford said. "He had a great year."
Right or wrong, Clifford said it came down to whom the coaches picked.
Before the season, Clifford took seniors Caleb Gee, Clint Wright and Mixon to the Shrine Bowl Combine, where coaches from the Shrine Bowl and North-South games evaluated players. Then, during the season, he nominated those three players for both games.
"I sent (Wright's) film to the linebacker coach and (Gee's film) to the offensive line coach and JaClay's to a couple of coaches," Clifford said. "I believed in my heart those kids had a bona fide chance to make it."
But none were chosen for either game.
"I was very surprised he didn't get any recognition," Yvette Mixon said. "I said, 'How is this determined?' "
Like any selection process, politics may have played a part.
"Anything in life has a lot to do with who you know," Clifford said. "(The coaches are) going to take their players."
To make matters worse, Clifford said the week rosters were released, he received a call from a South assistant saying that one of the Eagles had been selected. Clifford called the player's parents to tell them. Then, when rosters came out, the player wasn't listed.
"They told me he made it. The (assistant) coach called me and told me he made it," Clifford said. "So I called his mom and told her, and I looked like a (jerk)."
At a loss, Clifford said he may simply not be in the right circle of coaching friends. And this isn't the first time he has felt a Beaufort High player has gotten the shaft from the North-South game.
In 2007, Eagles running back and Beaufort Gazette Offensive Player of the Year Adrene Byas was picked for the South squad after a season that saw him rush for 1,982 yards and 33 touchdowns.
His stat line in the All-Star Game: eight plays, zero carries.
"I've never been more furious than that," Clifford said. "I don't know. I guess I'm not a member of the good old boys."
Though disappointed, JaClay took the snub in stride, at least publicly. But Yvette felt her son deserved the recognition.
"He doesn't get caught up in the stats, he just goes out there and plays hard," Yvette said. "It hurt my heart that JaClay had played so hard and didn't get any recognition. This is his senior year, this is it."
JaClay, who usually wrestles in the winter, is focused on weightlifting and academics instead this year. He's heard from more than a handful of colleges, including Appalachian State and The Citadel, but has no offers yet.
"You've just got to take what happens and move forward," JaClay said.
Clifford visited North-South practice Monday and looked at the running backs selected ahead of JaClay.
"He had a great year. I think he should have been chosen," Clifford said. "They're good players, but I don't know that they're better than Mixon."
Clifford says he's still sending out film and making calls to coaches, hoping to make a connection for Mixon. And maybe right a wrong in the process.
"He put on a show this year," Clifford said. "I hope some good things happen for him between now and signing day because he deserves it."
The 64th annual S.C. Automobile Dealers Association North-South All-Star Football Game
12:30 p.m. today, Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium, Myrtle Beach
Local players: Bluffton QB C.J. Frazier, Bluffton WR Marquis Webber and Whale Branch WR Dee Delaney are on the South roster.
Frazier to start
Bluffton quarterback C.J. Frazier told the Island Packet on Friday that he would start today's game.
"I'm starting," texted Frazier, who amassed more than 7,000 yards and 100 touchdown passes in his Bobcats career.