Why are high school players who already have college football scholarships participating in the 17th annual D.C. Coaches East-West All-Star Football Game, which is principally for players who have not won scholarships?
"The talent of the scholarship players is expected to be a main drawing card for the game, as well as the efforts of the athletes participating for college funding," said Frank Parks, the coordinator of the game, which will be played Friday at 8 p.m. at RFK Stadium.
And there are other motives among the players.
Delmar Chesley, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound all-Met linebacker from Anacostia, has known since last November that he would attend Southern California next fall. He feels this game can give him an edge for the beginning of college practice.
"The game will definitely help me to get in better shape, something I'll need to be ready for next year," Chesley said.
Also, many players have appreciated the time and effort of their high school coaches and want to give a little something back. One such player is Robert Thomas, an honorable-mention all-Met running back from Theodore Roosevelt, who wants to show his gratitude to his coach, Jim Tillerson, who will coach the West team.
"He's the best coach I've ever had," said Thomas, who will run track as well as play football at the University of Miami. "Participating in this game is really a tribute to him and a chance to play with my senior teammates one last time."
For many families, this game is the last chance to see a relative play locally. That is why Mike Holley, a split end from H.D. Woodson, is playing.
"I'm in the game to let my family see me play one last time in D.C. because I don't think they'll get to North Carolina," said Holley, who has accepted a scholarship to North Carolina A&T.
The rivalry among Interhigh teams has encouraged Mark Palmer's participation. Palmer is an all-league punter from Eastern.
"I have something to prove in the Interhigh," said Palmer, who will attend Virginia Union. "I'm tired of hearing about Anacostia and H.D. Woodson. I want to show that Eastern has produced good football players from the Interhigh, too."
Few of the players apparently fear injury in the game.
"Basically, no, I don't worry about getting hurt too much," Chesley said. "With limited playing time, the risk of injury isn't very high."
Said Thomas, "I never think about getting hurt, because when you do that's when injury comes. You have to just clear your mind of it."
But Kevin Brown, an offensive lineman from Eastern headed for Virginia Union, sums up best the reason many scholarship players will participate.
"I'm playing to have some more fun," Brown said, "and, because I love to play high school football."