The notion that a player from an 0-10 team can make an impact in an all-star game may seem more like a pipe dream than a real possibility. Jaylon Kinchen and Demonte Upkins believe they can do just that for the Eagles in Red Stick Bowl XVII. The two Glen Oaks players say they are motivated, not intimidated.
“After I talked to some people who played in this game before, I got excited,” Kinchen said. “This is a chance to be out here with the best of the best this area has. I like getting the chance to show what I can do.”
Their make-up and skill sets are different. Both players were two-way starters for the Class 3A Panthers. The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Kinchen was a linebacker and running back. Upkins (5-11, 175) played defensive back and wide receiver. While they are playing on the same team, they will not be on the same side of the ball for the local all-star game that features 90 players. The game is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Olympia Stadium.
“Playing with and against people I have never played before is showing me what I need to do to get better,” Upkins said. “I have already learned a lot. The coaches are good. I’m impressed with the speed, the ability to catch and make plays the guys out here have.” The two players enter Saturday’s game with two basic goals. The first is to help the Eagles beat the Patriots. The second is to make an impression on a college recruiter who would be willing to take a chance on them. Both players should benefit from a reduced workload for East Ascension coach Darnell Lee’s Eagles. Kinchen seldom left the field for Glen Oaks and was the Panthers' top rusher with 905 yards. As a linebacker, he had 47 tackles and four tackles for loss. Kinchen said he grew up playing University High receiver Doryan Harris, an Eagles teammates, and several players on the Patriots’ squad, including Scotlandville quarterback Cameron Armstead and defensive back Nick Scott.
Both players downplayed the notion of any bragging rights at stake. Instead, GOHS duo has been their own support system. They compare notes after each practice.
“(Demonte) is doing really good,” Kinchen said. “He came out and made an interception in the first practice. He reminds me every night that people are watching us. He tells me need to work hard and show out.”
Upkins added, “I want to win and I hope I get a call from somebody who wants to give me a chance to play at the next level. That would be perfect.”