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File / The Outlook Reeltown's Eric Shaw (6) plays multiple positions but was selected to the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game as a tight end.

No matter how good you are, it is still hard to be recognized on a statewide level if you’re from a smaller classification, especially when it comes to the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star football game.

Of the 40 selections to represent Alabama, only four of them were from classifications lower than Class 6A. One of those four was Reeltown’s Eric Shaw.

“It’s a huge thing,” Rebel coach Matt Johnson said. “It’s a testament to the type of kid and type of player he is. Stuff like that you get for your athletic ability and stats and reputation and stuff like that, but what people don’t realize is he deserves it all just because of what he does behind the scenes.”

Shaw, who is a South Carolina commit and plays on both sides of the ball for the undefeated Reeltown Rebels, was selected as a tight end.

This year more than ever, Shaw’s presence has been felt on the offensive side for the Rebels. He has had several key catches and even a couple rushing touchdowns under his belt. Plus, just with his size and reputations, Shaw is many times under double or even triple coverage, freeing up his teammates to get in a lot more space.

But as much as he does offensively, Shaw has matched that with his defensive effort at linebacker. Shaw has finished in double-digit tackles several times and some of his best hits seem like they could be heard around the world.

“I think he’ll go out there and turn some heads just like he has been for us,” Johnson said. “He’ll do really well. I’m anxious to see what they do with him just because of the many positions he can play, but I think he’ll do a great job no matter what.”

As the premier all-star football game for graduating seniors, Shaw will get a chance to play with some of the best in the state. Every player selected for Alabama is either undecided or committed to a Division I team. 

But Reeltown’s players are taught about getting themselves exposure, regularly using social media and promoting their own highlight reels as well as attending camps whenever possible to try to make themselves better. The strategy definitely helped Shaw, who ended up with more than 20 Division I offers despite being from a small school.

“It helped him get exposed and get a ton of offers and with that comes stuff like this,” Johnson said. “It’s him putting in the work and earning the attention he’s gotten nationwide. Selection committees like this all-star committee would be crazy not to pick a kid with 20-something Division I offers. They need to slide that 2A label and say, ‘This is a kid we need to be looking at.’”

Only 14 players total from schools in Tallapoosa County have played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game and only one from Reeltown. Cory O’Neal represented the Rebels in the 1991 game. The last person from Tallapoosa County to be selected was Dadeville’s Anfernee Jennings, who now starts for the University of Alabama, in 2014.

Four Tigers have been selected all time and nine from Benjamin Russell have been picked, the last being eventual Auburn graduate Eltoro Freeman in 2006. 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.