By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 —
The 76th Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas annually spotlights talented high school seniors from high schools around North and South Carolina for an all-star football game with proceeds from the game benefitting Shriner’s Hospitals both in Greenville, S.C. and around the nation.
Stanly County had not had a representative in the game since the 2008 contest when current UNC-Pembroke and former North Stanly standout Wes Carter played for the North Carolina squad.
Two Stanly seniors played in Saturday’s game: Albemarle offensive lineman R.J. Prince and South Stanly defensive lineman/linebacker Jordan Starnes.
Prince played primarily on the right side of the offensive line, sometimes at right guard and other times on the end at right tackle. He and the other lineman for North Carolina held the South Carolina defense to just one sack in the game while helping the Tarheels to rush for 218 yards.
The Albemarle senior, verbally committed to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that it was an honor to represent Stanly County, but what he took away from his experiences at the Shrine Bowl was more than just about football.
“I learned that you have to be grateful about everything and don’t take things for granted,” Prince said, referring to the charity works of the Shriners and the presentations made on the field Saturday.
Starnes was used primarily on the defensive side as a rush end and on special teams, playing in the middle of the field on kickoff returns and rushing the punter on punt coverage. He was credited with one assisted tackle in the game.
The South senior, who has verbally committed to UNC-Charlotte, had his hand wrapped in a cast for precautionary reasons due to a thumb injury he had suffered in practice on Thursday when he got his thumb caught underneath a player’s shoulder pads.
“It was a good game and everyone fought hard. We all played the same amount like it’s supposed to be, and I had fun the whole week,” Starnes said.
A number of Stanly fans made the long trip down to Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. to support Prince and Starnes in the game, including both players’ mothers, who both expressed how proud they were of their sons.
On his choice of going to Carolina, R.J.’s mother, Valerie Prince, said that “I’m a Carolina girl and my sister graduated there. It was his choice and I would support him wherever he goes,” adding that she was glad he will be going to school close to home.
Michele Starnes, mother of Jordan Starnes, said that “it is awesome to think he was elected from among all the players in North Carolina to represent the state as a top player, coming from a small 1A school. It’s an experience he won’t forget.”
South Carolina won the game 23-19.