Asheville High put a pair of linebackers on last month’s Citizen-Times All-WNC football team (seniors Bryson Bradley and Danquiries Green).
So, the Cougars were not hurting at that position. But they would have been even better with the services of Dominique Shackelford.
The 6-foot, 210-pound senior took part in summer workouts with the Mountain Athletic Conference 3-A champions before learning he would not be eligible by NCHSAA rules after a transfer from Georgia.
Shackleford then found an outlet for football with the first-year independent Carolina Gladiators team. Now, Gladiators coach Reid Bennett just wants the same for Shackelford at the next level.
“I’m thankful that Dominique found us,” Bennett said. “He’s a sleeper. Here’s a kid who is a tremendous football player, but he never complained or ran his mouth. And he gave us everything he had. Some college out there would be lucky to get him.”
Shackelford missed the Gladiators’ first game because of the flu but still led the team with 49 tackles. Bennett has put together a highlight film for Shackelford and posted it to YouTube with the hopes that college recruiters will find it.
Asheville coach Danny Wilkins said Shackelford made an impression in his short time as a member of the Cougars. In addition to his work on defense, Shackelford was playing fullback and tight end.
“It’s a shame that it didn’t work out because he really had some great instincts about him,” Wilkins said.
“Absolutely, he was a good football player who would have gotten a chance for us. We would have been excited if it all worked out.”
Shackelford helped his stock Friday in Orlando, Fla. He made nine tackles and a sack, while returning an interception for a touchdown in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl. Shackelford left town on Christmas Day to start practice for the all-star game.
“It was a good experience and helped me see where I’m at against a high level of competition,” Shackelford said. “We practiced twice a day down there, and they had us in full pads. It was hard, but it was worth it.”
The Gladiators went 6-3 in their inaugural season and scored a road win over Christ School (38-28 on Oct. 12). National signing day for high school senior football players is Feb. 5.