A Night of Stars: Pinellas County’s Finest Shine in All Star Game

CCC's Devon Garnett makes his second interception of the night

If you thought the battle between the Union and the Confederacy was contentious, then you’ve obviously not seen nor heard about the rivalry that exists between the teams in North Pinellas County versus the south. The Mason-Dixon Line is Ulmerton Road and it doesn’t matter what sport they’re playing. In football, if Countryside or East Lake are playing St. Petersburg or Lakewood, there’s going to be some feelings hurt or somebody’s going home madder than a wet hornet. If it’s basketball, then Clearwater vs. Lakewood is Tampa Bay’s premier atmosphere second to none. If it’s baseball, Dunedin vs. Seminole features future MLB stars and if it’s soccer it’s Palm Harbor University or East Lake versus everyone since they are the beautiful game’s version of Plant and Armwood.

The 17th installment of this midweek tilt was as good as a playoff game and the atmosphere at Clearwater High School was what you want from an All Star Game as the North Team defeated the South 24-16 Wednesday Night in front of a packed house at Jack White Stadium. Both rosters contained a who’s who in Pinellas County while the droves of college coaches in attendance salivated over the prospects of landing some of these future playmakers at the next level at their respective programs this Fall. So without further ado, it’s time to run down some of the action from last night and give you the names of some kids that “if you don’t know, now you know” like the late great Notorious B.I.G. once told us.

The signal-callers for the North Squad were Louie Pappas and Billy Pavlock. They’re both names you recognize I’m sure, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Billy Pavlock? He’s really good, and the more I watch him he’s like 1st Team all Tampa Bay good. Put it down. He’s by far the most underrated QB in this year’s class if you ask me, but with one caveat. He’s not your prototypical Pro-Set pocket QB. He’s going to make an HC that runs a Triple-Option or the Pistol a very, very happy man.

When I look at Billy, I see what coaches at Nebraska must have seen when they 1st laid eyes on Eric Crouch. No kidding. If you think he shy’s away from hits, think again. If you want to get into a foot race with him, think again. If you don’t think he can’t drop back and return kicks, think again. A wise man even suggested he could be an Anthony Gonzalez or Austin Collie type at the D-1 level and I’m actually on board with that too. He’s got an offer from Georgia Southern and if he takes it, he’ll beat 99% of the Seniors from this year’s class to a National Championship Ring with the current state of that program. Make no mistake, he’s D-1 talent and he’s bulked up enough to play physically at the D-1 level as well.

When I look at Louie Pappas I see the elements of Pavlock with his legs, but I also see a rifle arm and accuracy that has improved as if his arm received lasik surgery and not his eyes. Pappas also looks like he’s bulked up his legs and core strength which means in addition to that arm, he will become a valued commodity in any type of offense that runs a hybrid of the spread or even a balanced Pro Set where he could be depended upon to make plays with arm or feet. Pappas is a QB all the way and in my opinion is not a bad option for a school like USF that could use someone to push whoever the incumbent is now that Jupiter Christian’s Tyler Cameron has decommitted from the Bulls and opted for Wake Forest.

Pinellas Park’s Brandon Hames and St. Petersburg’s David Jones handled the duties under center for the South, but it was mainly Hames that led this group. Hames connected on several nice passes to Jones including a TD in the 2nd Half where Jones went and got the perfectly thrown fade over the CB’s back shoulder. Hames has a smallish figure, but the cliche “it’s not the size of the dog, but the size of the fight” works for this young man. Give this kid the proper strength and conditioning program and you’ve uncovered yet another hidden gem from the Pie.

David Jones is an athlete you guys. He’s got a long frame and he doesn’t appear to be running very fast until you turn around and he’s three yards past the DB.  Jones reminded me of his counterpart from the North, Tarpon Spring’s Dondre Daley. Although Daley may have a slight weight advantage, both players look identical in pads to me. Daley is 6-2, 175lbs and Jones may be virtually the same. Both players are the quintessential possession WR in-training. When they get to the next level, the objective will be simple. Get the ball up high and let them go get it. Can you say red zone/goal line threat? When I look at these two on film and in person I see the kind of potential (with the right coaching) to turn the both of them into an Andre Davis type.

Countryside’s Diomi Roberts broke off some of his signature runs including a 36 yard house call switching lanes and bouncing off tacklers. Dante Fowler got hurt relatively early in the game, but guys like Iman Smith (Pinellas Park) and Devon Garnett (CCC) really showed me what time it was. Garnett was in straight shutdown mode with a couple of INT’s in front of his HC John Davis and Smith was bringing lumber to Pappas and Pavlock whenever (and quite often I might add) he could. Gibbs’ Gary Simon had a nice evening for the South with an INT.

If you’re looking for some clay to mold and  you know of coaches that get a bigger rush from working with untapped potential then look no further to guys like Blair Vaughn from CCC at FB or Linebacker. Dunedin’s Doug Foreman has the size to be on either side of the ball and you could give me guys like all 3 of Northeast’s representatives Austin May, Eli Pedigo and Adam Kerr and I’d be happy. Lakewood’s Javaris Little, Boca Ciega’s Brandon Carter and East Lake’s Tyler Carbonelli also have the ability with the right the fit to become ultra-productive at the next stage as well.

So ends another season in Pinellas County and although it didn’t end well for the teams that were on the verge of the ultimate prize, there’s still plenty of reason to expect that this will be merely one door opening while another closes for a record number of players in the county. There’s a bumper crop in the Class of 2013 and 2014 that have yet to even hit their stride and the future is bright. There’s one caveat to all of this however which trumps anything and everything. Listen up fellas. (Especially PLAYAS, players and parents)…

If you think that I’m just blowing smoke where the sun doesn’t shine regarding your academics then you need to run over to Brookstone in the mall or order one of them fancy smoke removers out of the SkyMall Magazines on your next plane trip. This is serious folks. The second question LITERALLY out of the mouths out of the scores of coaches that I personally talked to last night was…”How are his grades?” Third question? “What’s his test scores?” Want to take a guess how many questions regarding your 40 time and your ability to block, tackle, and make good decisions on the field? How about never. They (coaches) can get your film anytime they want. They’re not Ray Charles or Hellen Keller. Their eyes and ears tell them a lot more than you can imagine. What they can’t decipher accurately is whether or not you actually earned that 2.2 and that 850 on your SAT or did you just blow it off?

Think about it…the choice is yours. They don’t have to give a damn thing to you. It’s earned. Especially if you’re not playing in Gainesville, Tuscaloosa, Knoxville, or Athens. These schools can give you options beyond your days when your body decides to shut down. It’s going to happen. Will you be ready? Make it happen fellas. Pinellas County deserves better and you’re the ones to make sure it happens.