By BRETT MARSHALL
In early February, Garden City High School football player/wrestler Montana Fuller put his name to an NJCAA National letter-of-intent to play football at Hutchinson Community College.
He believed that his final game as a high schooler had passed in November when the Buffaloes had reached the Class 6A semifinal game against Derby.
But that has all changed now as the 6-3, 255-pound offensive lineman, has been chosen to play in the upcoming American Football Worldwide Paris (France) game that has a 34-player roster from 20 states that will play on March 29 against France's National Under-19 team.
The game, which will be played in the Paris area, will be a chance for Fuller to not only compete at a high level, but to experience visiting historical sites around France while there.
"I got an email somewhere around Christmas time and I was surprised when I read it," Fuller said earlier this week before his departure today for Chicago and then on to Paris. "I was anxious to find out about the organization and the game."
The nine-day trip will provide Fuller and his teammates time to visit the Normandy D-Day beaches and other historical sites. And, it will give them an opportunity to see what the game of football is like in a foreign country.
"They're trying to build the game of football over there since soccer is their main sport there," Fuller said. "We're going to be able to promote the sport."
Unlike the U.S., there are no sports in high schools in France. There are club teams only and they play in other countries as well.
"I think France was like sixth in the world and second in the European league," Fuller said.
While Fuller played offensive tackle for the Buffaloes last fall, he may see action at either guard or center in the game.
The team is coached by Jim Barnes, a 25-year veteran of NCAA Division III schools, 16 of those as a head coach. Barnes has coached at Augustana College, and the College of Wooster. Barnes has led international teams on trips to compete in Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Mexico.
If he plays center, it will be the first time since his freshman season at Lakin High School to play the position.
"It won't be foreign to me," Fuller said.
An accomplished wrestler, Fuller had just finished his 2014 season with the Buffs, placing second in the 285-pound weight class at the Class 6A state meet in Wichita the last week of February. He has been named to The Telegram's All-Area football and wrestling teams his senior season.
"Trying to get into football shape from wrestling is the biggest challenge," Fuller said. "I've been pushing the sled, doing some running and working on my footwork."
Fuller said it was definitely strange to be making the transition from one sport to the other so quickly.
"The whole thing is pretty exciting," Fuller said. "I've never been out of the country, so to be able to see the sites and study the history and to represent the U.S.A., it will be the experience of a lifetime."