Chargers electrify all-star game
Published 8:24 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The primary reason that Angela Harper founded the semi-professional Suffolk Chargers was to give local young men another chance to play before scouts and continue on in football. That opportunity was never more prominent than during Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Football Alliance spring 2013 all-star game in Annapolis, Md., and several Chargers players made the most of it.
The league’s all-stars were divided into North and South teams, with the Chargers players on the South, and a low-scoring defensive battle ensued. The teams were locked in a scoreless tie until 1:40 remained in the game. Then, Chargers outside linebacker Ricky Taylor snagged an interception and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown, scoring the game’s only points and earning Most Valuable Player honors.
“Being my first year playing semi-pro, it was an honor, and I’m very grateful that I could be the one that was named MVP, to bring it back to the hometown team,” Taylor said.
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Taylor was part of a group of Chargers all-stars that included Walter Boykins, Daquon Frazier, Daryl Greene, Andre Harper, Santonyo Jones, Charlie Keys and Swendell Stephens. Unfortunately, Jones was not able to attend due to work obligations.
Daniel Kelly of the National Football League’s New York Jets was on hand to scout out the talent on display, and he was joined by scouts from several colleges.
Taylor described what it was like playing in front of them as they evaluated the proceedings.
“That was very exciting,” he said. “I was nervous at first, but as the game wore on, I calmed down and got in my element. I got focused.”
Taylor, 28, related his love for the game and how he would like to pursue it further.
“I wouldn’t mind playing arena football, if possible,” he said.
After the South’s 6-0 victory, Taylor received his MVP award and Harper and the Chargers were presented with a trophy for being the champions of the ACFA’s Tidewater Division, having finished the regular season with a 5-3 record.
Harper shared what it was like to see her primary reason for forming the Chargers come into full bloom.
“It’s just amazing,” she said. “And then, too, for my boys to get out there and one of my boys makes the only touchdown that wins the game, and then I wasn’t expecting for them to give me that trophy. I cried the whole game.”
The tears of joy came as the Chargers excelled during the contest, embracing the chance to play with conference rivals-turned-teammates.
“We were on the same team so we had to come together,” defensive back Andre Harper said.
They collectively put a defensive stranglehold on the North.
“They didn’t pass midfield,” Andre Harper said.
The emotions continued to flow after the game when Angela Harper spoke with Taylor in front of the other players.
“I had a talk with him, and I found out how much it really meant to him to play,” Harper said.
Taylor said, “I really didn’t get to play all my high school years, so it kind of brought back memories of playing high school, so I kind of got teary-eyed because it means a lot. I’ve got something that I can show my kids, say I accomplished something in life that I wanted to accomplish.”
He let Harper know that he was grateful for the opportunity to play again.
“I thank her with every ounce of soul in my body, I thank her for letting me play,” he said.
The Chargers will return to the gridiron in the fall, and Angela Harper will be holding open tryouts on July 6 at Peanut Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.