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Oxbow Freshmen Have Eyes on the Next Level

Oxbow football players Dametres Perry, left, Josh Walls, and Tristan Longmoore pose for a photo on the Oxbow football field in Bradford, Vt., on December 10, 2013. The three players will attend the National Underclassmen Football Combine in San Antonio, Texas in January. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

Oxbow football players Dametres Perry, left, Josh Walls, and Tristan Longmoore pose for a photo on the Oxbow football field in Bradford, Vt., on December 10, 2013. The three players will attend the National Underclassmen Football Combine in San Antonio, Texas in January. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »

Bradford, Vt. — This fall, freshmen Josh Walls, Dametres Perry and Tristan Longmoore surprised some Oxbow Union High football supporters by contributing significantly to the Olympians’ varsity team. With a little help, they’ll have the chance to impress a much wider audience.

The trio has been invited to participate in next month’s National Underclassmen Combine, an invitation-only event to be staged in San Antonio by Football University (FBU), a New Jersey-based sports management firm.

Loaded with more than 200 college scouts and coaches, the event for high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors will be held in the morning of Jan. 4, prior to FBU’s All-American Bowl, a nationally-televised senior all-star game featuring the nation’s top college recruits.

The goal of all three players is to one day play in college, and they know how important a role exposure plays in helping to get there.

“It’s a great opportunity to go down there and have a chance to perform in from of all those coaches and scouts,” said Longmoore, a Bradford resident who’s been playing the game since second grade. “We’ll get to see what the competition looks like on a national scale, see what we’re up against and see what other kids can do. We know it would be a very valuable experience.”

The threesome was invited in part because of their performances last year playing for FBU’s New Hampshire eighth-grade all-star team, which welcomes both Vermont and Granite State athletes. They played in a regional tournament in the Boston area last December, losing to the Massachusetts all-stars but defeating Rhode Island. Though they didn’t advance out of New England — they would have had to go 2-0 on the weekend to do so — their performances kept them on FBU’s radar.

“That was a great experience,” said Walls, a fullback and defensive end. “(The National Underclassmen Combine) is the next step and a great opportunity.”

All three players had remarkable seasons this past fall, as they contributed to both the Olympians’ varsity and jayvee teams.

Walls was a fierce presence, particularly on defense, while Longmoore, a quarterback, connected with Perry, a split end, for a whopping 16 touchdown passes at the jayvee level. Longmoore also threw for 340 yards and five touchdowns backing up Quinten Mahikoa for the O’s varsity team, which reached the Vermont Division III playoffs.

Walls, an East Ryegate, Vt., resident, attends Blue Mountain Union High in Wells River, while Perry, of Orford, is a Rivendell Academy student. Both play for Oxbow via the Vermont Principal Association’s member-to-member program, which allows students to suit up for neighboring schools in sports their own school doesn’t offer.

Perry, a Hartford, Conn., native, began playing in sixth grade after losing interest in soccer, while Longmoore began with the Bardford Bulldogs seven years ago. Walls started with the Bulldogs only last season, but the burly lineman is already enamored with the sport.

“I’m a big guy, so it’s the perfect sport for me,” Walls said. “It’s a great sport, physically and emotionally, to let out your aggression and things like that, and you make a lot of friends you’ll have for a lifetime.”

The 90-minute combine will test players’ strength and agility through a series of traditional drills, including the 40-yard dash, shuttle runs and jumping exercises. Each player will receive a national ranking for his own records that will also be sent to more than 200 football-playing colleges across the country.

Longmoore, Perry and Walls estimate it will cost them about $1,200 apiece for registration, lodging and airfare. They’re all about halfway there and are continuing their fundraising efforts.

Walls emphasized he isn’t looking for anything luxurious.

“I told my mom, ‘I don’t care if we sleep in a rental car, I just want to get down there,’ ” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Longmoore and Perry have teamed up for a joint fundraising effort, organizing pancake breakfasts to take place this weekend in Bradford and Orford (see accompanying chart). Walls is in the midst of a letter-writing campaign to raise the necessary funds, with a “young savers” account set up at Woodsville Guaranty Savings Bank.

Sean Perry, Dametres’ dad, is happy to be helping his son and teammates get to the gala in Texas.

“All three of these boys have really stepped up as young athletes,” the elder Perry said. “It’s hard for them to get recognized playing where we live, but they all have so much talent, desire and passion that they deserve it.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.

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Oxbow Football Freshmen Thinking College: How To Help

Thursday, December 12, 2013

■ Make a donation at one of this weekend’s pancake breakfasts, which will be held Saturday at the Bradford Fire House and Sunday at the Orford Masonic Lodge. Both events will be held from 7:30-10 a.m., with proceeds to benefit the fund raising efforts of Perry and Longmoore. ■ Contact the Walls family at football3978@gmail.com or 603-991-9428. Donations may also …