Brantley alumni make semi-pro all-star team

Published 6:05 pm Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Left to right:  Jacon Varner of Red Level, along with Brantley alumni Chris Booker and Dillion Motes,  were selected as members of the Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League ( APDFL) Blazers.

Left to right: Jacon Varner of Red Level, along with Brantley alumni Chris Booker and Dillion Motes, were selected as members of the Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League ( APDFL) Blazers.

The word football means something entirely to the rest of the world, and it doesn’t involve pigskin.
But two Brantley High School alumni are well on their way toward making America’s new favorite pastime a shared one around the globe.
Dillion Motes and Chris Booker, both former with the Brantley Bulldogs football team, are members of the semi-pro Covington Raiders team and were both named to the Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League (APDFL) Blazers, an all-star team encompassing players from around the southeast and east coast regions.
Both players were members of two standout Bulldogs teams even by Brantley’s standards—Booker played in the championship game in 2005 and is a two-time all-state player, and Motes, also named all-state, claimed the state championship in 2009 at Bryant-Denny stadium.
Despite their accolades at the high school level, both consider the semi-pro league to be a beast all unto itself.
“It was a real big adjustment,” said Booker, who has been playing semi-pro football for three years now.
“The main thing was the speed of the game.  In high school, it’s kind of easy to outrun certain players on teams.  But in this league, you really have to be on your A-game.  You can’t take a play off, and everybody is skilled out there and bigger, faster and stronger.”
Motes pointed out the fact that, because the league is open to any and all players, there are far more body types and strategies to deal with.
“It was a step up because you’re going against grown men,” Motes added.
“You’re going against 30 and 40-year-old men, and they are some big guys. Some of the guys we play have all gray hair.”
They’re likely won’t be any gray hair to find on the heads of their next opponents, though, as the all-star team is scheduled to face off against the Obic Seagulls, a Japanese team based in the city of Narashino in the prefecture of Chiba, on August 14 at Central High School in Tuscaloosa.
The Seagulls’ roster is a combination of American and Japanese athletes, making for a potent blend of talent that ranks as the highest-rated non-NFL team in the world.
It’s the first time that the team has set foot on American soil, and it’s also the first time America has had an international team to compete against them.
It would be easy to buckle under the enormous pressure, but Motes and Booker have turned that pressure into fuel for the game.
“Just to get this opportunity is a big thing not just for my high school or my town, but right now we’re representing America,” Booker said.
“We really want to put on a show and just show them what American football is over here.”
The exhibition game is also an excellent scouting opportunity for Motes and Booker, as the semi-pro league is a common means of transitioning to other leagues.
But before making it to the big leagues, the two are using their league to show that football’s popularity can extend beyond the United States, not unlike World Cup fever that sweeps the globe every four years.
“That is one of my all-time dreams to see not only us, but to see it all over the world,” Booker said.
“I think football is something great, and I think we should share it with the world.
The team will have a car wash at Vinny’s in Brantley on Aug. 2 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. to raise money for equipment and travel expenses, and they also opened a bank account at BB&T in Luverne for those interested in donating to the cause.