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Center Grove senior will play for U.S. team as part of trip to Paris

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Logan Hutson has enjoyed some of his finest moments as an athlete wearing the red and white associated with Center Grove High School football.

He’ll soon embrace a third color, which makes the former Trojans wingback anything but blue.

On March 29, the 5-foot-8, 170-pound senior will play for the American Football Worldwide ELITE team in a game against the national U19 team of France.

The game will be played in Paris.

“I can’t wait. Going to France and getting to play football is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Hutson, who rushed for 394 yards this past season and just under 2,000 over a three-year varsity career in which Center Grove posted a 32-9 record.

“It will be cool to see Normandy, the Eiffel Tower and things like that,” he said.

The game brings together 34 graduating high school seniors from the United States to compete against the French team in what will be a rematch of last year’s inaugural game.

In all, 20 states are represented on the 2014 U.S. roster, with Indiana and Wisconsin supplying the most players with four apiece. The other Hoosier players hail from Carmel’s defending Class 6A runner-up squad — defensive back Mitch Davis, defensive lineman Vic Roe and linebacker Ryan Sondles.

France, in recent years, has made an impact on the gridiron, finishing sixth in the 2012 U19 World Championships of American Football conducted in Austin, Texas. Last summer, the French placed second to Australia.

“I don’t know how good this team is going to be or how big their players are,” Hutson said. “It should be interesting to see how we stack up against them. “I believe I’m our only running back, per se, so I guess I’m going to get a lot of playing time and maybe catch some passes.”

Hutson is qualified to handle both tasks. As a senior he rushed the football 66 times and caught seven passes for 201 yards and three scores.

“I think this is an excellent chance for Logan to play football again and see the world,” Center Grove football coach Eric Moore said. “He had a great high school career and probably outperformed his body’s limits. Logan is small but tough and quick.

“Just an excellent character kid.”

The selection process is conducted largely by recommendation to AFW President Jim Barnes, who will be coaching the U.S. team.

Barnes’ international experience is extensive, having previously led American football teams into competitions in Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Mexico and, of course, France.

“We look for guys who are good football players who also want to be good ambassadors for our country. Young men with a broader understanding of the tour,” said Barnes, whose company is based in Moline, Ill. “Most of the day we’re going to be exploring the world.”

A portion of what Barnes learned about Hutson was through Carmel High School defensive coordinator John Herbert, who served as an assistant coach for the 2013 U.S. team in its game in Paris.

“He spoke very highly of Logan,” Barnes said.

AFW ELITE team members are scheduled to fly out of Chicago on March 22. Once in Paris, there will be four practice sessions along with tour destinations such as Paris, Versailles and the Normandy coast, among others.

U.S. players will wear matching red, white and blue uniforms but are encouraged to bring the helmet they wore in high school.

This means Hutson’s white helmet with the red 3 on the left side also will be on display east of the Atlantic Ocean. He already has started the process of applying his own version of the stars and stripes to the helmet.

“Obviously, we’re going over there to win, but we’re also being stewards of the game of football,” Hutson said. “Just making friendships with my coaches and teammates will be pretty neat.”

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