All-Star Game Offers a Final Chance at the Spotlight

By Preston Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 19, 2008

Westfield senior quarterback Billy Samson spent his high school career backing up Mike Glennon, which is to say that Samson spent his high school career not playing much. North Carolina State signee Glennon threw for 32 touchdowns last fall and was the All-Met offensive player of the year.

And the times when Samson did get in the game, it was usually because his Bulldogs were way ahead, which meant the only passes he would attempt were his sideline warmup tosses.

Not tomorrow. Samson will morph from stifled backup into slinging contributor as one of two quarterbacks on the West team in the Northern Region Classic, a senior all-star game in which the West (Concorde and National districts) and East (Liberty and Patriot districts) squads will be required to pass on 60 percent of downs.

The West coach is Westfield quarterbacks coach Brian Day, who will give Samson his share of snaps along with Chantilly quarterback Austin Decker. So what if Samson's region debut and swan song will take place within a two-hour span?

"It's going to be strange for me to come in and have a whole playbook, not just an inside run or an outside run for when you're up by five touchdowns," said Samson, who will play quarterback at Randolph-Macon College. "It's going to be my time to show everyone what I can do and get the ball and throw it around.

"I'm not trying to hype myself, but I think I'm just as good as any quarterback in the region besides Mikey. I'm glad I stayed at Westfield because I had the time of my life going 15-0 with all the best friends I've grown up with for 18 years."

West receiver Ben Barber, a Virginia Tech signee, is feeling similarly liberated. Forced to play quarterback last fall, when he led Edison to the Division 5 region final, Barber tomorrow will play his preferred position -- receiver -- and said he is excited to do so.

But he had some homework to do this week on one of the guys who will be throwing to him.

"I played against Decker," Barber said. "He's a big quarterback, great arm. The other guy I don't really know much about because Glennon tore things up."

Of the 22 first-team all-region seniors from last fall, eight will be competing in the all-star game: South County running back Titus Pennington, West Springfield punter-kicker Tyler Bitancurt, Robinson defensive linemen Derek Qadir and Logan Perryman, Westfield defensive lineman Chris Leon, Centreville linebacker Donnell Carpenter, Westfield defensive back Tucker Karl and Lake Braddock kick returner Keon Robinson.

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