Oddly enough, James didn’t really get his chance to shine with the Niners until another East Texan, Kendall Hunter from John Tyler High School in Tyler, went down with an injury. His name is now as well-known in the NFL as it was in high school and college.
We had a chance to talk with LaMichael at the annual Super Bowl Media Day at the New Orleans Superdome on Tuesday. We first asked him about his exploits against the Gilmer Buckeyes in 2006 at Lobo Stadium in Longview in the first round of the high school playoffs when he almost single-handedly defeated the #1 Gilmer Buckeyes with his explosive runs.
We asked him if he and Gilmer’s brightest star, Curtis Brown, now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, ever discussed the game that set the stage for the Leopards to run the table in the playoffs and capture the State Championship.
“I’ve been reminded of that a couple of times talking with Curtis (Brown) and G.J. (Kinne). They’re still a little bitter about that. I think it (that game) was real big for me, especially playing in a game of that magnitude. When you’re the underdog and you’re playing a team with I don’t know how many Division I recruits, you know, I knew they would have scouts there watching them, so I knew I needed to try to boost up my scholarship chances.”
We asked him if he and Curtis ever talk now that he is a Niner and Curtis is a Pittsburgh Steeler. “I talked to him about two weeks ago. We still discuss that game. He said he won’t
ever forget about that.” Fans in Liberty-Eylau and Gilmer will never forget about the game either, but obviously for different reasons. What the L-E fans want to forget is the following year in the first round of the playoffs when the Buckeyes paid L-E back and ended their season in the first round. Gilmer went on to the State Championship Game in Waco against Liberty-Hill.
LaMichael is hoping for the same results in the Super Bowl that his team had that night in November of 2006 in East Texas. Most of the nation appears to be hoping just the opposite.
Regardless of the outcome, it is a great opportunity for NFL fans from all over East Texas to see the talent the area produces being able to compete at football’s highest level. It should be a great game!