On Saturday, Dec. 17, the King’s Academy was the site of one more high school football game. It was the annual Palm Beach County and Martin County High School All-Star Football Game. The game featured the top senior high school football players from Palm Beach County and Martin County. The players were divided into two teams — American and National.
In addition to the game being staged in the western communities, the two head coaches this year were from local schools as well. The head coach of the American team was Mario Jackson, the coach at Berean Christian School, while the head coach of the National team was Wellington High School’s Danny Mendoza.
Both coaches were impressed by the team-first attitude of their players. Jackson had 43 players on his team, while Mendoza’s team had 45 players, which included seven seniors from Wellington High School.
“It was amazing,” said Jackson, who had served as an assistant coach in the game back in 2017. “The buy-in from the kids was automatic. You could see their thirst for knowledge, and their football acumen was high enough to suggest ideas in critical situations. I’m honored and humbled just to have an opportunity to be a part of this great event.”
Mendoza had a similar experience as a head coach in this year’s all-star game, which was sponsored by the law firm of Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath.
“Practices were awesome!” Mendoza said. “It is tough getting all the kids there from all over the county and with them playing other sports, but we were able to put together three great days of practice.”
To bring parity to the game and to help make it competitive, Jackson and Mendoza selected players for their respective teams in the form of a draft. As result, high school teammates from some schools were on opposite teams.
The squads from both the National and American teams were selected from the following high schools: American Heritage, Atlantic, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Clewiston, Forest Hill, Inlet Grove, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, West Boca Raton, Palm Beach Lakes, Lake Worth, Pahokee, Palm Beach Central, Park Vista, Pope John Paul II, Royal Palm Beach, Glades Day, TKA, Suncoast, Santaluces, Cardinal Newman, Boca Christian, Jupiter Christian, Spanish River, South Fork, Fort Pierce Westwood, Martin County, Berean Christian, Somerset Academy Canyons, Wellington and William T. Dwyer.
In the days leading up to the game, practices were held at Lake Lytal Park in West Palm Beach. On the field, the American team prevailed over the National team, 20-10.
At the end of the game, defensive and offensive MVPs were named for each team. Wellington quarterback Ryan Anthony, the starting quarterback for the American team, was his team’s offensive MVP, while the American team’s defensive MVP was Matt Boylan, a defensive lineman from Boca Raton. Saint Andrew’s School quarterback Jacob Cashion, the starting quarterback for the National team, was that team’s offensive MVP, while the National team’s defensive MVP was Mi’Kel Hendrix, a defensive end from Atlantic.