For the first time since 2014, the Elmore County football team will be represented at the AHSAA North-South All-Star football game. Graduate Kwan Bickley received a late invitation to join the South roster from Dadeville coach Richard White and Bickley knew he could not pass up the opportunity.
“Coach White texted one of my coaches and without any hesitation, I said I’d do it,” Bickley said. “It’s just another opportunity for some coaches to see me.”
Bickley was a full-time starter on both sides of the ball for the Panthers during his senior season. He finished with 286 receiving yards and led Elmore County with four touchdowns through the air, including his first career touchdown in an overtime win over Holtville.
“Kwan is going as a receiver and he didn’t catch his first touchdown pass until his senior year,” ECHS coach Jordan Cantrell said. “It took a lot of time and effort to get here. It shows that if you put in that work, you can get rewarded.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Bickley finished his senior season with 91 tackles and three interceptions as the team’s starting safety. Bickley said the coaching staff has him working out more as a receiver but he hopes to get to play a little bit on both sides.
“It’s a real different feeling because I’m definitely more used to defense,” Bickley said. “I’ll do my best and hopefully make a couple of catches out there.”
Cantrell said Bickley has set an example for other players around the Elmore County program and this will help show them the hard work is worth it. Cantrell said he wants to see players get the opportunity to play in the all-star game more often.
“It’s really exciting for everyone here,” Cantrell said. “Kwan worked really hard during his senior year. He’s a very good football player and he was a real leader by what he did on the field and in the weight room for us.”
Bickley admitted he is not the most vocal player so he knows he has to lead by example. Cantrell said he has no doubt that will continue during this week’s practices and at Thursday’s game.
“He’s going to play all out and do what he needs to do to make an impact,” Cantrell said. “He’ll get a chance to compete against some high level talent and get some different coaching to help prepare him for the next level.”
The players reported to AUM on Sunday and have been staying on campus all week and practice twice on both Monday and Tuesday. Bickley said he has enjoyed the experience so far and is soaking in the opportunity to improve his game over the week.
“I’m just trying to take as much advice as I can,” Bickley said. “I think I can learn some new stuff and hopefully I can keep working on it to use it at the next level.”
Bickley is planning on attending Point University to continue his football career in the fall. He hopes to move on to a bigger school and he believes this week will help him prepare for the next level both on and off the field.
“I didn’t know anyone when I got here,” Bickley said. “I think it’s making myself get out more and talk to people. Getting out of my comfort zone it going to help a lot when I get to college.”