Dec. 8—Kaleb Flowers, the talented senior football standout at Stone Memorial High School, will be taking something special with him when he hits the field tonight (Dec. 9) in Clarksville. Flowers was selected to participate in the Tennessee Athletic Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game and he is eager to measure his abilities against some of the best seniors in the state.
However, when he suits up for the East squad and the game is finally kicked off, Flowers will be playing with the spirit of his grandpa, Jason Bickford. Bickford played an integral role in raising Flowers and the bond between the two is super strong.
"This game is in honor of my grandpa because of all the sacrifices he's made in his life for me to be able to be the athlete I am today," Flowers said.
"I know he is proud of me and I am very thankful I have had his love and support behind me on this journey.
"He's going through some medical issues right now, so I am hoping he can make it to the game. I would love for that to happen, but if he can't I completely understand."
The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Austin Peay State University's Fortera Stadium. Though he also played wide receiver for the Panthers, Flowers will place defensive back on Friday. Stone Memorial coach Derik Samber will be an assistant coach for the East squad.
"I was super excited for the opportunity to play in the game," Flowers said. "I have always wanted to play in an all-star game and get to compare my abilities with all the other guys. I just want to play wherever the coach needs me and wherever I can help the team."
Flowers grew up in a big football family, and ever since he was young, football was a part of the family. His cousins played, his brothers played, even his grandpa played. Football has been a way of life for him for as long as he can remember.
"This whole thing is going to be a great experience, and an opportunity for me to learn from the people that will be around me," Flowers said.
"I will be able to pick things up. I am super excited to learn from these coaches, and I want to take something from them that will make me better."
The game can have a far-reaching impact on Flowers and his teammates. Besides getting a chance to compete one more time, they will also likely be playing in front of several college football coaches.
"There is a little pressure to be honest, but I am ready for the opportunity, for the opportunity to show my abilities in front of more college coaches, for them to know what they can't see on film," Flowers said. "I want them to see my effort, my hard work."
Flowers, the son of Heather Flowers, said he's not made a college decision yet, and is still looking at several locations. He hopes to make an announcement in the spring.
For now, Flowers is focusing on the all-star game and the chance, just maybe, that his grandpa will be in the stands.
"It would be an honor, playing in my last high school game, to be able to play it in front of him," Flowers said.
"Considering everything he's done to help me; it would mean the world to me for him to get to see me play."