For another year, the beasts from the east are better than the best from the west in Hillsborough County. Newsome’s Alec Hallman netted a 37-yard field goal with 1:21 to play in the game that pushed the Eastern All-Stars to victory in the annual game at Raymond James Stadium.
It was a defensive battle throughout the whole affair, which was reflected in the final score. The East flew to the ball through their intense linebackers in guys like Brandon’s Dakota Trice, Newsome’s Dylan Throneburg, Durant’s Jacob Ross, and Riverview’s Zack Reddin, just to name a few.
With the way they looked, the East quite possibly had a chance to make it a lopsided game, but that was not to be. Freedom WR Trent Burnett came on an end around for a 14-yard score in the first quarter. Tampa Catholic ATH Darius Corbett was in on the play that set it up. Hallman would miss the PAT, something that usually comes back to bite teams in the back.
The West were not able to fire back until seconds before the half when Steinbrenner K Noah Ruggles banged a 24-yarder through the uprights to trim the lead to three.
After the half, Newsome QB Drew Lindbeck entered the game for Plant City’s Corey King, who had played well to that point, to help run the wishbone formation that Eastern All-Star Head Coach Mike Thornton wished to run well. Lindbeck fumbled on the first play by a great defensive effort by the west defensive line. King’s Dwight Hopinks picked it up.
The East defense would hold, partly because of Bloomingdale DE Sam Skinner’s outstanding performance, but also for East Bay HC (turned defensive coordinator) Frank LaRosa, who watched his own Bobby Brown intercept a pass in the fourth quarter that would lead to Hallman’s eventual field goal at the end of the game. “I was getting scared because of the fact that nobody was scoring points, so if we had lost that game 7-6, I would’ve probably curled up into a ball and gone away, but so it was pretty nice to redeem myself and put the other one through the uprights,” said Hallman.
Ruggles would hit another field goal in the fourth that tied the game, this time from 40-yards, and would be named the West’s offensive MVP for his performance. Blake’s Demetrius Powell had two sacks on the evening, which led to him grabbing the defensive MVP honors.
On the flip side, Skinner sealed his fate to be the defensive MVP for the east when he sacked Robinson QB Najee Fitzgerald on 4th down with ten seconds to go. Burnett’s touchdown, the only one of the game, was the factor that gave him the MVP on the offensive side.