BY GENE NARDI
The 20th annual Palm Beach County All-Star Game was held the evening of Saturday, Jan. 10 at John I. Leonard High School, with the teams divided into North and South, and North routed South 44-7.
The North jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, scoring on the team’s first two possessions, and held the South scoreless in the first half.
The South closed the gap in the second half to 21-7 when Jean Rene (Wellington) caught a 22-yard pass for the score. Rene made an acrobatic grab, out-jumping two North defenders for the ball to gain the touchdown.
Turnovers plagued the South, as they drove into the North red zone four times, only to come up empty. The North’s offense could not be stopped, as the team scored another 16 points. The North’s defense is credited with a fumble recovery for a touchdown and a safety.
The game historically had drawn the attention of college coaches from across the nation, giving them an opportunity to evaluate players while watching them play live, and not via film. NCAA rules now prohibit coaches during the noted “dead-period” from having contact with high school players.
If there is any consolation, the players know that they can use the footage from the game to boost their highlight videos one last time before national signing day.
The coaches and players also use it as an opportunity to train with players from other teams across the county, some having even played against each other during the regular season. Players can showcase their talent to the fans, record their efforts and have fun while doing it.
To prepare for the game, the players had only one week to practice together, so the play-calling was limited for both sides.
Sixteen senior players from the local area were selected to play. On the South’s roster, from Wellington High School, were receiver/defensive back Jean Rene, quarterback Shannon Patrick, receiver Kyle Branch, center Brandon McNall and kicker Alex Ng; from Palm Beach Central High School was defensive end Luis Peguero, receiver Larry Dunnan, offensive lineman Jamie Saah and defensive back Carrington Henderson. Representing the North, from Royal Palm Beach High School, were receiver Derrick Python, defensive backs Shamar Jackson and Cody Taylor, linebacker Demarcus Holloway, offensive linemen Frederick Johnson and Kyle Bieber, and kicker Devon Wallace.
Rene earned Most Valuable Player recognition for the South and was honored with an award concluding the contest. Rene had five receptions and is credited with a touchdown. Receiver/defensive back
ABOVE: North linebacker Demarcus Holloway (Royal Palm Beach) succeeds in tackling the South ball carrier.