ASHEVILLE – Better late than never couldn’t be any more applicable.
Reynolds senior Rico Dowdle is a late replacement to the Dec. 19 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas all-star football game in Spartanburg, S.C.
The roster change was confirmed Tuesday by Shrine Bowl administrator French Harvey.
Dowdle, who is a quarterback/running back, and Asheville High lineman Pete Leota are the only seniors who will represent the mountains in the annual exhibition between North Carolina and South Carolina at Wofford College.
“Rico is undoubtedly one of the best players in North Carolina,” Rockets coach Shane Laws said.
“Everybody that we played knew that he was a big part of who we were. They tried to stop him and take him away. But you just don’t take away a player like Rico.”
Dowdle is a two-time Mountain Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He set a Western North Carolina single-season record for touchdown responsibility (63) this past season.
Dowdle rushed for 2,545 yards and passed for 1,434. He scored 51 touchdowns with his legs and 11 with his right arm. Dowdle even had one receiving touchdown.
The Rockets (11-2) were the MAC 3-A and outright champions.
North Carolina Shrine Bowl coach John Kirby of Eastern Alamance said that Dowdle would replace Abdul Adams of Durham Hillside, who is injured.
“We’re glad to have Rico on our team,” Kirby said.
“It’s not easy to pick the Shrine Bowl players. When you start picking the first 15 to 20, yeah, it’s pretty easy. After that, you start getting into a lot of good players and some get left off. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Rico and hear people talking about what a great kid he is. I’m glad he is on our team.”
Leota, who has committed to South Carolina, was previously selected to the Shrine Bowl roster in October. Cougars assistant coach Charlie Metcalf is part of the North Carolina staff.
Dowdle carried the football 21 times for 249 yards and six touchdowns when the Rockets beat Leota, Metcalf and the visiting Cougars on Oct. 3 by a 54-21 score.
Dowdle has not yet committed to play college football. He took an official visit to N.C. State last weekend and has other ACC offers from Boston College and Wake Forest. South Carolina and Tennessee are also still in the mix, Laws said.
National-signing day for football recruits from the Class of 2016 is Feb. 3, but they can sign after that until April 1.
South Carolina has won the the last three Shrine Bowls and four out of the last five (the Tar Heels prevailed in 2011 by a 26-19 score).
It was also announced recently that Dowdle is one of 10 finalists for the Parade Magazine National Player of the Year award.