TAMPA – Not everyone can be an all-american or an all-star. To earn that distinction, you’ve got to be good–no, GREAT at what you do. In this case, there will be close to one-hundred of those all-stars that will bless us with one more chance to showcase their greatness tomorrow evening at Raymond James Stadium.
Before the emergence of the national showcase games such as the Under Armour (established 2008) and the US Army All-American (established 1999), the only games played this time of year were the county all-star games and along with a “few” select contests that feature statewide players using the North-South format. Now that those national games pull the “best” talent in the country with their talents put on primetime television, it’s easy to forget about the backbone of the postseason pigskin parade–the games that quintessentially represent the grassroots of the local product–the county all-star games.
With the invention of those national games, some have adopted the notion that the local games have seen their talent base diluted. In some cases, they’d have an argument supporting this theory that the national games get first shot at the main draws and then the locals are left to deal with what’s left–but no so fast. This has nothing to do with talent. This is about a business model–and a very successful one at that. The national games have a near unlimited amount of blank checks they can write to satisfy any-and-all needs of their clients. The locals aren’t exactly left to pick up the pieces, though. In fact, this is the opportunity that many young men have been waiting for now that the big dogs have a place to roam.
The locals now–such as Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk–are only as good as the patrons that are willing to pony up the money–and most importantly their time–to make this the best product it can be. There are some raging success stories within the state of Florida though when it comes to putting on these types of showcases–like Broward County–that have provided the blueprint for success.
The potential for the Hillsborough County All-Star game is limitless as long as the community realizes that it is limitless in providing chances for its product–aka the players. Now is the time to show these young men tomorrow evening that we feel their potential is limitless by sitting in the stands and giving them one last hoot-and-holler.
The Hillsborough County All-Star game was established in 1998, but the boys didn’t get to play their first game until ’99 due to a scheduling conflict with the stadium. The first year, Hillsborough played Polk in a cross-border contest and in 2004 split themselves into an East-West format to play Orange County’s East-West teams. They’ve played fourteen times in Tampa as an East-West format–and wouldn’t ya know? The series is tied at 7-7 heading into tomorrow night. Last year’s contest was won by the West Squad 17-14 with Leto’s Matt Kitchie as the Head Coach–which is the same this season. The offensive MVP’s were the East’s Bruce Anderson from Newsome and Chamberlain’s Tahwan Keels from the West. The defensive MVP’s were Brandon’s John Preyer from the East and King’s Andrew Fakolade.