Five members of Daphne High School’s 2010 undefeated AHSAA Class 6A championship team went on to reach the pros. But they haven’t forgotten where they came from.
On Saturday, a tradition that began in 2017 continued with the Daphne Youth Football Camp at Trione Park. The event was hosted by Ryan Anderson, Eric Lee, Torren McGaster, Michael Pierce and TJ Yeldon.
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“It’s important to give back,” Anderson said. “We grew up here, and we didn’t really get to see much of this – the other side of it, the camps. We had one that coach (Kenny) King put on, and I always tell that same story because I’ll never forget it. That’s why I feel like it’s important to come back and do this every year.
“It’s our community. We just want to give back when we can. They gave so much to us. It took the community, it took the whole village to get us to where we got at this point in life, so we just want to reach back and try to instill what we can into these kids. If we reach just one of them, that would mean the world to us.”
Pierce won the MVP Award in the AHSAA Class 6A championship game on Dec. 3, 2010, when the Trojans defeated Hoover 7-6 to cap a 15-0 season and Pierce’s prep career.
The other four players were seniors on the 2011 Daphne team, which extended the Trojans’ winning streak to 23 games before falling to McGill-Toolen 38-28 on Oct. 21, 2011.
In college, Anderson and Yeldon were teammates for three seasons at Alabama, Lee played at South Florida, McGaster at Vanderbilt and Pierce at Tulane and Samford.
Four of the players eventually appeared in NFL regular-season games, with McGaster getting a look from the Cincinnati Bengals. Anderson spent four seasons with Washington, Yeldon played six seasons with Jacksonville and Buffalo and Lee appeared in two seasons with New England and Detroit.
Pierce is still playing and was at training camp with the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday.
“We’re going to stick together forever,” Anderson said. “That’s just what it is. This is our community, these are our people and we’re going to continue to do this together forever – me, Mike, Torren, TJ, Eric and the rest of this community.”
On Saturday, a football field full of youngsters ranging from kindergarteners to eighth-graders benefited from the players’ devotion to their roots.
“We get to do this for the kids,” Anderson said. “Just to see them smile, see them run around happy – that’s the main goal.”
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.