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One time, for kicks

Gliarmis twins to play in 70th NCCA East-West game

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When it comes to the football careers of Walker and John Gliarmis, it’s impossible to get one without the other.

Descending from a rich lineage of collegiate kickers, the twins supplied Fike High with an embarrassment of riches in its own kicking game for the past four seasons.

Already anticipating the next step in their careers, Walker and John will begin summer classes at Appalachian State University on Thursday as they look ahead to their first seasons as invited walk-ons for the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Mountaineers.

But before that can happen, the twins, who will likely redshirt this season in Boone, will kick in one final high school football game as both will take part in the 70th annual North Carolina Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game, scheduled for July 18 at Jamieson Stadium on the campus of Greensboro Grimsley.

Fike’s dynamic-legged duo will represent the 27th and 28th selections to the game all-time for the Golden Demons, which includes both players and coaches. Both are the only 2018 East-West selections from The Wilson Times readership area who will play in the contest after a third selection, Beddingfield’s Marcus Parker, withdrew in June.

“It’s really an honor,” Walker said in a telephone interview from Boone on Wednesday. “I really love that I get to play a game before (college). I’m already at Appalachian, but I’m getting more experience before I go. We can have fun for a week getting to play football. It’s just a lot of fun getting a chance to play a game.”

The Demons were 33-18 during the twins’ four-year tenure and the presence of both allowed many stalled drives to end with three points instead of going for it on fourth down and coming up short.

“I think it’s a great opportunity that I get to play in this game and develop new friendships,” John said. “I’m getting to play with a bunch of people from my region, who are the best in the region. It’s going to prepare me as a future as a college football player.”

That last sentence from John isn’t just lip service. They plan to forego the use of a half-inch kicking tee during the East-West game to get acclimated to what they will endure during Saturday afternoons in the fall.

Also attending Appalachian State will be Lee County linebacker Keaton Forbes, who will reprise that position in the all-star game. Forbes is expected to factor into the long snapping equation for the Mountaineers. Thus, Walker plans to lobby for Forbes to serve in that role for the East.

“I think we’re ready to kick off the ground,” Walker assessed. “That’s the only college aspect that we’re going to put into this game from all the practices that we’ve had. We’re excited to use that in a college game. We’ve been practicing from the 35, and it’s really good that we get to kick off from the 40. It gives us a chance to do great playing our last high school game.”

Walker and John combined to make all but one extra-point attempt as seniors and routinely forced opponents to take the football from the 20-yard line after touchbacks. Their exploits helped Fike post a 4-1 record last year in games decided by a touchdown or less. John drilled a 48-yard field goal during his senior season, while Walker’s long of 41 yards was recorded in a 34-31 win at Erwin Triton with 11 seconds remaining. Both twins have developed the leg to be successful from over 50 yards.

According to John, the Appalachian State coaching staff was supportive in allowing the twins to pursue the all-star opportunity.

“What’s great about the coaches specifically that recruited me, he’s all about opportunity,” John said. “If you receive an opportunity to play in the Shrine Bowl or East-West Game, you should definitely take it. He even let us play tennis this year for our last season. Pretty much the whole school has helped a lot to work around our schedule.”

In high school, the duo often decided amongst themselves which twin would enter the game to kick off, attempt a field goal, or punt, an arrangement that passed muster with Fike head coach Tom Nelson — himself a former East head coach and assistant. However, at the East-West game, they plan to defer to the coaching staff, led by Garner’s Thurman Leach.

“We’re going to follow what the coaches say,” Walker said. “And if they say you can do that, then we’ll probably do that. But if they actually want to pick one of us to do one thing and the other to do the other, that’s fine too.”

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