On Saturday, Dec. 14, the National Team defeated the American Team 33-5 in the annual Palm Beach County All-Star Football Game held at Jupiter High School, where senior football players could showcase their talent prior to signing day and boost their stock for recruiting. The game was sponsored by Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey and Fronrath.
The game has gained increased interest, due in large part to Santaluces High School football coach Brian T. Coe, who also is founder of Rising Stars Athletics, which promotes student athletes. Coe has been instrumental in the event’s success as one of the lead coordinators.
“I think it has gotten a little better each year with reference to the kids and what they get out of it and the exposure,” Coe said. “I run it through Rising Stars Athletics and give out scholarships and a donation to the school in the name of the coach that I selected as coach of the year.”
Al Shipman of Palm Beach Lakes High School received coach of the year honors. The Rams went undefeated in the regular season and made a deep post-season run.
Several players from the western communities were selected to compete in the game. From Palm Beach Central High School, there was quarterback Anarjahe Douriet and running back Malik Johnson. From Seminole Ridge High School, there was receiver Isreal Rosiles, defensive lineman Ryan Blake, defensive back Andre Fuller and linebacker Alex Cohen. From Royal Palm Beach High School, there was defensive back Ketron Hadley and receiver Ricardo Rosier. From Wellington High School, there was kicker Morgan Suarez, defensive end Mike Cotter and cornerback Finlay Toussaint.
Coe had a different approach this year for the game. He had the coaches of both the National and American team draft players that were selected for the game. “I thought the format of drafting the kids went pretty well,” he said. “It was interesting watching the kids interact with each other as high school teammates and now play against each other on opposite teams. I thought it was a fun time for them.”
The players seemed to enjoy the change, especially after the game. Players assembled in the center for some final words, the announcement of scholarship winners and a time to network with each other.
Blake received a defensive scholarship award. “It’s a blessing playing with the Class of 2020,” Blake said. “I’m just trying to keep it going and get better.”
Blake has interest from Keiser University and a few other schools.
A pair of National Team defensive backs — Fuller and Hadley — have been rivals for their schools but were teammates during the game. The duo made it difficult for the American Team to move the ball through the air through most of the contest. “It feels great because I’ve been playing with some of them since little league,” Fuller explained. “We’ve been practicing at Lake Lytal, and that’s where it all started. I still talk to my boys to this day.”
Marshall and the UConn Huskies are among the schools interested in Fuller.
“There’s a lot of talent in Palm Beach County,” Hadley said. “To be amongst one of them and to be chosen to play in this game is a blessing, and I give thanks to God.”
Hadley ended an American drive in the fourth quarter with a stellar interception, leaping up on a deep ball that appeared to be a would-be touchdown, came down with the ball and returned it nearly 30 yards to set up good field position for the National team.
Suarez, a recent Lou Groza Award winner, put up the first two scores of the game, early in the first quarter for the National Team. His first was a 28-yarder, and on the next possession, he launched a 35-yard field goal to put his squad up 6-0. He later put up three more extra points and attempted a 54-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that fell just short of the crossbars.
Late in the game, he also stole a sure touchdown from the American Team when he lined up for the punt and a high snap went over his head, into the end zone. Suarez chased the ball and smothered it, giving up only the safety. “All I could think was give up two or six, so I covered it and held on. That ball wasn’t going anywhere,” he said.