Area players look to make splash in football all-star game
Friday, January 21, 2011
by Matt Porter
In the week of practice leading up to Saturday's high school football all-star game, some of the best football players in the county were busy trying to erase doubts.
"I got to show them I can play," Palm Beach Gardens' Marcus Scott said. "Then I got to show everybody that they can't play with me."
Scott, who played safety for the Gators, was fired up after making several bone-rattling hits in Tuesday's practice in preparation for the Lytal Reiter Smith Ivey and Fronrath Trial Attorneys High School Football All-Star Game, formerly known as the Outback Bowl. One tackle was so aggressive it prompted National team coach Keith Byars of Boca Raton to tell players afterward they'd "get letters from the commissioner" if they made hits like that in the NFL."
Scott isn't the only player with something to prove.
When the season ends, Palm Beach County's blue-chip recruits get the royal treatment. They play in nationally televised showcase games and are celebrated by college coaches, while recruiting gurus and rabid football fans dissect everything on the Internet.
But many of the 70-something players in Saturday's game are just trying to earn a chance.
Few have concrete plans for next fall. Atlantic's Ezekiel Turner (FIU), Santaluces' Terrance Floyd (Wisconsin) and American Heritage's Robby Nasiff (FAU) have pledged to sign with Division I schools. Smaller-school commits include Seminole Ridge's Tyler Butler (Colgate) and Park Vista's Matt Rodriguez (Delaware) and Zach Sibrava (Charleston Southern).
West Boca Raton's Robert Lockhart, Atlantic's Wedley Estime and a few others have drawn Division I interest while others are in limbo.
Despite being one of the county's best running backs this season, John I. Leonard's Marlin Joseph was added to the National Team roster only after a few players backed out. He's a 5-foot-11, 227-pound bull who runs a 4.57 in the 40-yard dash, but Joseph's grades have kept colleges looking elsewhere.
"That's first thing, get my grades up, go to college and show them what I got," Joseph said.
Joseph's temporary teammates have different stories. Palm Beach Lakes' Marquis Williams missed much of his senior season with a hip injury. Forest Hill lineman Mike Siebenaler played for a long-struggling program. Boynton Beach linebacker Kenny Stephens is barely 5-foot-7.
The game is where they'll prove themselves one last time, John I. Leonard coach Wayne Monroe said. "Nobody can say, 'Oh, he was in the wrong offense, or oh, it was the (offensive) line,' all the excuses that everybody tries to use when the season's over with."
After an intense practice, coaches told players to slow down.
"These are your teammates. Don't go for the hit," Byars said. "Go for the hit on Saturday."
Then the 13-year NFL veteran told the assembled group of players what they needed to hear.
"Now, keep playing like that, and some of you will be playing on Sunday," Byars said.