Local senior high school football players gave it one last try in efforts to draw attention to their talents in the annual Palm Beach County All-Star Game on Saturday, Jan. 13 at John I. Leonard High School.
The American team bested the National team this year 12-0 in a game littered with turnovers, six in all, due to a lackluster offensive showing and a stellar defensive performance by both teams.
Eighteen players from the four area schools were invited to compete in the last high school football contest of the season. Players who are still looking to increase their potential offers use all-star games to network themselves to gain exposure in hopes of earning scholarships to play at the next level.
The game drew the attention of local universities, including Keiser University. The Seahawks had their inaugural year in 2017 and will play their first regular season in the fall. Several Keiser coaches had eyes on the field, evaluating the local talent.
The first half remained scoreless as both teams suffered turnovers. Aggressive and hard-hitting defensive units made it difficult for the offenses to move the ball effectively.
In the fourth quarter, the American team made its way to the end zone. Palm Beach Central quarterback Nick Atkins led a drive to the National 5-yard line, and eventually ran a keeper to the outside, sprinting untouched to the end zone. The point-after kick was wide, but the American team secured a 6-0 lead with a little over four minutes to play in the game.
The National team was unable to move beyond midfield in its final drive, which gave the American team a chance to extend the lead and put the game out of reach. Atkins helped march the American team to inside the National 5-yard line, where they drove in the final score to win 12-0. “It feels awesome,” Atkins said. “There weren’t many opportunities, but when I had them, I took advantage of them.”
Atkins was named the American team offensive MVP for the game, and Wellington’s Chandler Loiseau was awarded the defensive MVP for the National team.
“It’s a blessing,” Loiseau said. “I worked hard to get here, and I’m just trying to prove myself.”
Both MVPs are no strangers to one another; they faced each other on opposite sides of the ball during the regular season in what has turned into the biggest rivalry in the western communities.
“It’s fun,” Loiseau said.
“You gotta love it,” Atkins explained, standing next to Loiseau.
The two stood together with their awards, arms around each other, displaying a camaraderie not often seen. The two agreed it fueled them to be more competitive during the game.
Wellington and Royal Palm Beach high schools were on the National team with Aniik McKenzie, Micah Conway, Ryan Petrovich, Adrian Tiburcio, Abram Perez and Chandler Loiseau from Wellington, and Curtis Bunche Jr. and Jamarion Smith from Royal Palm Beach.
Palm Beach Central and Seminole Ridge high schools were on the American team with Nick Atkins, Jeremiah Anderson, Didero St. Germain, Tre Jackson, Marcus Cushnie and Fornoris Roberts from Palm Beach Central, and Justin Allie, Jon Fioramonti, Max Zimmerman and Zach Cohen from Royal Palm Beach.