Hillsborough County All-Star Game: West Side Wins
By Evan Abramson
In a 33-20 victory at Raymond James Stadium, the West Hillsborough County All-Stars were able to end a four year losing streak with the help of the West offensive All Star MVP, Senior Plant Panther, Aaron Banks in front of a record attendance for this event of 1878 people.
“It was a lot of fun. You know, during the season, we all have our fair share of rivalries, but this past week (team practice), we all kind of forgot about that, came together, formed special bonds, and got to know each other as teammates” said Banks.
Banks threw for an average of 152.7 yards per game this year with a 61.2% pass completion rate and tonight completed 10 of his 14 attempts tonight with 161 passing yards which includes two touchdown passes and no interceptions or fumbles. But when Banks came out to give his counterpart, senior Alonso Raven, Brandon Hawkins the ball, their seemed to be no stopping this dynamic duo of senior quarterbacks. Hawkins threw for 159 yards, 3 touchdown passes, and completed 9 of his 12 attempts while also allowing no fumbles or interceptions. Between the two of them, they were only sacked twice showing the success and hard work the offensive line had given on the field.
“For me, it was a great experience because I came out knowing this was my last ever high school game and I played great, got a win, and played with other high school stars who deserved to be out here with me” said Banks.
According to Banks, he had great receivers, a great line, and he was able to work with that and feel comfortable. When he felt comfortable, he knew he was able to click and have fun and succeed as a team.
Both teams didn’t have much of a rushing game due to the extensive passing. The West had 55 rushing yards out of their 444 total offensive yards while the East had 14 rushing yards out of their 317 total offensive yards. There was 23 total penalties, 15 of which belonging to the West All Stars.
“There was talent on each side of the field. I coached what I knew, I had great assistance alongside me, and we just did what we knew, put the kids in a good position to win, and came through” said West All Star and Leto Head Coach, Matt Kitchie.
According to Kitchie, the one thing they did really nice was throwing the ball and the effort the receivers and quarterbacks put in didn’t hurt.
“Defensively, we played great. We had kids on the field who came tonight loving to hit people and just went with it. It was fun to them and us. I had the chance to be near great kids and teach them the sport I love” said Kitchie.
On the first play of the game for the East All Star offense, senior Newsome Wolf, Will Worth took a fake handoff down the field from the 2 yard line for a 98 yard rushing touchdown. Aside from that, worth threw for more than 75 yards and completing 8 of his 13 passes, one of which was the last play of the game, completing an end zone passing touchdown to senior Cambridge Wide Receiver, Robbie Robertson.
“We made some mistakes, we didn’t capitalize on some plays, and obviously the West showed they deserved to win” said East All Star and Plant City Head Coach, Wayne Ward.
According to Ward, executing was one of the problems in the game and they lacked some of the fundamentals, but they had only a week to get settled and they did a great job and the kids he worked with were great. Coach Ward expressed how much he enjoyed teaching these kids in the week they had together and wishes they go on to bigger and better things.
“After Worth ran for the 98 yard touchdown, the West immediately reacted with a new defensive purpose and they went out and sustained the running game, kept us off the field with a couple of 3 and outs, got on top of us a little, and when we got back on the field for the 3rd quarter, they stopped us then and there on yet another 3 and out. That right there was the game changer in momentum and spirit for this team and myself” said Coach Ward.
According to both coaches, each others teams played well. They each felt that the players played with a lot of heart and all of them deserved those MVP awards that only 4 players received.
“A lot of the guys are gonna go onto bigger and better things. It was fun getting to know these guys and the week we all spent together was fun. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend my last football game than to win it and be the offensive MVP for my team” said Banks.