By Kevin Wilson
Leon Williams Stadium has always felt like a second home to Clovis’ Phillip Williams, even if he plays a little loose with its first name.
“It’s Phil Williams Stadium in my mind,” Williams joked, while quickly backtracking to note the longtime radio broadcaster and school board member deserves top billing.
Saturday is one more time at his stadium, and he won’t be the only familiar name in the Battle of the Borders All-Star Game this weekend in Clovis.
Williams is one of nine Curry County Cats selected to the New Mexico Premier League’s all-star team, which will meet the Texas-based Southwest American Football League’s all-stars in a 3 p.m. Saturday contest at Leon Williams Stadium, the home of the Clovis High Wildcats and for a shorter time the semipro Cats. Tickets are $10 each, with children 12 and younger admitted free.
“It’s going to be a good experience,” said Williams, a unanimous first-team pick at running back for the NMPL squad. “(It’s) a good chance to get to know all the guys we played throughout the season.”
A full roster for the SWAFL all-stars has not been posted, but Mario Caswell, selected at left tackle and defensive end for NMPL, said the home team shouldn’t expect a cakewalk.
“They’re pretty tough,” said Caswell, who’s also likely to draw punting duties in the contest. “I know the West Texas Gorillas will have a lot of players on the team, and they’ve been nationally ranked the last few years. They’re going to have a good squad.”
Other Cats selected were Kendale Parker, Quinn Culliver, Manuel Robles, Travis Phillips, Joe Lewis, Morris Sharp and Denzel Pleasant. All but Lewis, Parker and Robles are primarily defensive players.
“I think our strong suit is going to be our defense,” Caswell said. “We’ve got our two safeties, our linebackers … we know each other. I think we’ll mesh together.”
Players were chosen for the team by owners of the league’s seven teams. Owners were allowed to make first-team and second-team selections, and were not allowed to vote for their own players. Players received two points for first-team votes and one point for second-team votes. Only four players received the maximum 12 points — Williams and three players from the league champion New Mexico (Albuquerque) Wolfpack.
“I think that’s a good way to do it,” Williams said of the process. “You don’t feel like somebody made it because of their team. You know you made a mark.”