BY GENE NARDI
On Saturday, Jan. 14, nine area football players competed in the 21st annual Palm Beach County All-Star game, sponsored by Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivy & Fronrath. John I. Leonard High School was the host venue for the big annual event.
For the American team, Seminole Ridge High School’s Nick Plesca played defensive end, Diamond Blair played linebacker, Kristian Gonzalez played running back, Ja’ven Miles played defensive end and Nathan Frank was on the offensive line. Also for the American team, Palm Beach Central High School’s Anthony Wynds, Offensive Player of the Year, was at running back. For the National team was Wellington High School’s Patrick Mark at strong safety, Isaac Adonis at defensive end, and Lou Groza Award winner Logan Robinson served as kicker.
One hundred seniors were selected from around Palm Beach County with the hopes of attracting the attention of college coaches in an attempt to dial up potential scholarship opportunities to play at the next level. Many of the players either have offers or are seeking offers from other schools. The game provides players the chance to showcase their abilities one last time as high school athletes.
One thing that was consistent: During postgame interviews, all of the local players agreed that it was an honor to be there, and have one last chance to play high school football.
“It feels good, going through the whole process, and the long workouts,” Seminole Ridge linebacker Diamond Blair said. “The whole object of football is to just have fun, win or lose.”
The all-star game typically pairs up the North against the South, but this year, event coordinators decided to make it more interesting by creating teams based on rivals and coined the teams the National against the American. They had the right idea, and the game did not disappoint the fans. It all came down to the final minute. Many of the local athletes were impact players for their respective sides.
The first quarter ended with the American team on top 7-3, with all the points being scored by western communities players. Robinson scored first with a 36-yard field goal for the National team. The American team then responded when Wynds scored on a touchdown run of 9 yards to lift his team up 7-3. The American team eventually led at the half 17-3.
In the second half, the National team mounted a fourth-quarter rally that totaled 21 points to carry them into the lead late in the game, led by quarterbacks Eli Matthews (Palm Beach Gardens) and Armanin Eden (Palm Beach Lakes). The American team could do little to respond late in the game, and the National team stole the win 24-17.
Plesca, Blair and Miles for the American team, and Adonis and Mark for the National team, all contributed to the success. “It’s an honor to be chosen, and it’s a blessing to be out here with everyone,” Wellington’s Mark said.
Seminole Ridge’s Plesca recorded two sacks for the American team. Palm Beach Central’s Wynds showed why he was selected as player of the year, recording a score, catching a pass for one first down and rushing for two others. “This was one last chance to play a high school football game,” Wynds said. “It feels real good.”
After the game, both teams met in the middle of the field in good sportsmanship for photos and awards. The camaraderie displayed was nothing less than first-class among the players and coaches.
“It was an honor to be here, and I’m just thankful to play in one more high school football game,” Wellington’s Adonis said.
The players will continue to build their résumés with the desire to be recruited to play college football while pursuing an education. “It was an honor to represent the Ridge,” Frank said. “I want to go to college for an education as well.”
ABOVE: Palm Beach Central’s Anthony Wynds runs for a first down for the American team.