Administrators at Stone Bridge High School called a special assembly for the entire school Nov. 2 to celebrate the selection of defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and quarterback Ryan Burns to the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl Jan. 5 in San Antonio, TX.
The Army Selection Committee picks just 90 seniors from around the country to play in the annual game, which has given dozens of NFL players their first taste of the national spotlight. Current NFL players Andrew Luck (QB, Indianapolis Colts), Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow — who are competing for the quarterback spot for the New York Jets — are among the All-American Bowl’s more recent alumni.
As Army All-American Bowl spokeswoman Lauren Winfrey put it, the athletes must “earn the right to wear the colors of the U.S. Army.”
So it’s not surprise Principal James Person called the news “one of the biggest announcements in the history of Stone Bridge High School.” Previously, the school had sent a musician to play in the game, as Briar Woods did this year, but not athletes. Incidentally, Briar Woods sent Alex Carter to the game last year. Carter now plays for Stanford and was featured by the San Francisco Chronicle.
What appears to be even more remarkable about the Stone Bridge news is the fact that this lone Ashburn school produced two of game’s players. Fellow students cheered on the standout Bulldogs with chants of “Yeah, Ryan. Yeah, John.”
Ryan and Burns humbly accepted their jerseys, but quickly returned their focus to the Bulldogs’ appearance in the upcoming playoffs.
“It’s a huge honor to be in this game,” Burns said, but quickly added, “we still have some work to do the next month and a half.”
Allen, liked Burns, thanked friends, family, teammates and coaches, and noted, “It’s been an incredible four years.”
Person also pointed out that coach Mickey Thompson had been nominated for the Virginia High School League Hall of Fame, an honor Thompson credited more to the school than his work.
“Stone Bridge is a special place,” Thompson said. “It’s special for all of us. It’s a tremendous honor for all of us.”
Person — who had accidentally, but noisily knocked a chair off the podium set up in the school’s gym as he tried to quiet some boisterous students — heaped the credit back onto Thompson, who has a string of championships with the school.
“Maybe I fall off stages, but people like him get me back on,” Person said. “This is a representation and celebration of who all of us are.”
The game is set for noon Jan. 5 at the Alamodome and will be carried live on NBC.
See video of the celebration on the Stone Bridge Sports website.