Fike's Noel Ruiz kicks an extra point during the second quarter of Wednesday's NCCA East-West All-Star football game at Grimsley's Jamieson Stadium in Greensboro. Ruiz made both of his extra points and had a 47-yard field goal blocked in the East's 20-17 win. Michael Lindsay | High Point Enterprise
By Jimmy Lewis
Although he’s already taking college courses on the campus of North Carolina A&T, Fike High graduate Noel Ruiz got one final opportunity to kick in a high school setting at Wednesday night’s 69th annual North Carolina Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game inside Jamieson Stadium on the campus of Greensboro Grimsley High.
In the East’s 20-17 victory, Ruiz was successful on both of his extra-point attempts and handled the kickoff duties. Ruiz, who will battle for the kicking duties as a freshman for the Aggies in the fall, was sent out to attempt a 47-yard field goal in the third quarter. However, the West got quick penetration into the backfield, causing the Ruiz kick to be blocked. It was picked up by Cinsere Allison of Kannapolis Brown, who rumbled 50 yards for the score and put the West up 10-7 with 6 minutes, 10 seconds left in the third quarter.
All four of Ruiz’s kickoffs went without a return and resulted in touchbacks.
“I was pretty happy with how I performed,” Ruiz said in a telephone interview Thursday night. “All of my kickoffs went for touchbacks, and on my 47-yarder that was blocked, I was pretty confident when it hit off my leg.”
But it wasn’t to be as the West immediately won the line of scrimmage on the play.
“They came straight through the middle,” Ruiz said of the West’s rush.
However, the East responded quickly a 13-yard scamper from West Montgomery’s Jo Leake to send the East back up 14-10. The East fell behind on a 26-yard strike from Chris Reynolds to Tyshun Odom with 11 minutes, 3 seconds to go, but secured the clinching score with 5 minutes, 33 seconds to go on a 15-yard run by Clinton’s Ryheim Skinner.
Skinner, who finished with 94 yards on 17 carries, was named the game’s Offensive Most Valuable Player.
All in all, it was an acceptable ending to a prep career for the Golden Demons’ potent leg, who climbed onto college recruiting radars early in his senior campaign.
“Going out with a win representing Fike, I loved it,” Ruiz assured. “I met some really great people and the coaches were fantastic. I’m sure I’ll see some of those guys along the way.”
The West now leads the series 38-29, with two ties.
WILSONIANS ON THE FIELD
In addition to Ruiz, there were two other Wilson high school graduates on the field for Wednesday’s East-West All-Star Game.
Serving as the back judge on the officiating crew was Clee Atkinson, a star player at Fike in the 1980s who is now the Edgecombe County sheriff. Atkinson is a member of the Coastal Plain Football Officials Association.
On the West sideline was assistant coach Greg Hill, who retired earlier this year as the head coach of Gastonia Ashbrook High. Hill, a 1984 Beddingfield graduate, was a standout lineman for the Bruins before attending Elon University. He coached for 30 years, including stints at Eastern Alamance, West Charlotte and East Mecklenburg, where he was head coach for 10 seasons. Wednesday’s all-star game was Hill’s last as a coach in North Carolina but he and his wife, Fran, have moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where he will be an assistant coach at North Myrtle Beach High.
Sports Editor Paul Durham contributed to this story.