North Central Florida All-Star Classic: NORTH PREVIEW
By Marty Pallman
Twitter – @mpallman
They say defenses win most postseason games in football. And All-Star games are usually no exception.
But the offensive talent is plentiful for the North squad as they prepare for the North Central Florida All-Star Classic presented by Legacy Team Sales. The game kicks off
Friday night at 7:30 at Trinity Catholic High School in Ocala (GAME POSTPONED TO MONDAY, DEC. 17, AT 7 P.M.)
P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) head coach Marcus McDonald will lead the North team. In his first season at the helm, McDonald led the Blue Wave to a 10-2 record and first playoff win in 14 years.
McDonald knows he has been blessed with a lot of talent in this game.
“When we first met this week you could tell it’s a room full of studs so we just have to go out and compete,” he said. “These are the 40 best players in the area and we will try to give as many guys touches as we can.”
The North offense is led by running backs Uveekie Fields of Hawthorne, who rushed for 1,460 yards and 21 touchdowns in leading the Hornets to the 1A state semifinals, and Williston’s Quinyon Mitchell, who is committed to Arizona State and ran for 983 yards and 11 TD’s while battling injuries for the Red Devils.
Mitchell is just happy to be back on the field.
“I am just trying to get to 100 percent,” he said. “Coming from a 1A school I am trying to show some of these kids from bigger schools that i can compete against them.”
Joining Mitchell and Fields in the backfield are Jaylin Session of Palatka, Niles Cromwell of Gainesville, Jeremiah Vaughn of Bradford (Starke), and Pernell Sylvester of P.K. Yonge.
Calvin Littles of St. Francis Catholic (Gainesville) is the quarterback for the North squad.
Littles didn’t start the season at quarterback for the Wolves but is now starting as the signal-caller in this game.
“I am a little nervous about this game but am built for this,” he said. “I didn’t play quarterback at the beginning of our season so I just went out and did what I have to do to win. I also want to see how I can compete against players from higher classification schools.”
The North receiving corps consists of Bobby Fulton of Columbia (Lake City), Devonte Bowie of Hawthorne, Ben Massey of Lafayette (Mayo), and Palatka’s Treyvon Williams.
Two players from Eastside (Gainesville) highlight the North defense, led by linebacker Sheldon Hardy. He is joined by Rams’ teammate cornerback Earley Young.
Hardy is happy to be able to be back on the field again.
“This is my first All-Star game, and I am very thankful to be here and for the coaches for coaching me up,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to be on the same field with some of these guys who are great players and want to win like me. The South better know we are coming.”
Santa Fe (Alachua) also placed two players on the defense, defensive lineman Petey Peterson and cornerback Deonte Graham.
Chiefland has two players on the defensive side as well with defensive linemen Wyatt Hammond and De’Shamar Shepherd, and Bell also has a pair of defensive players with linebacker Colton Spears and safety Johnathon Walls. Union County (Lake Butler) had two defensive players selected for this game as well, defensive lineman Tyler Alexander and cornerback Keyshaun Young.
Overall, Palatka, Hawthorne, and Eastside had the most players selected for this North team with four, while Santa Fe, Dixie County (Cross City), and St. Francis Catholic are next with three.
McDonald is joined on the coaching staff by four other area head coaches – Scott McDaniel of St. Francis Catholic, Joey Whittington of Bell, R.J. Fuhr of Oak Hall (Gainesville), and Eastside’s Cedderick Daniels.
McDonald knows he is leading a fantastic accumulation of players as well as coaching talent.
“So many things go into being a head coach, and from the first practice I could tell these coaches are flexible and adaptable,” he said. “These coaches have plenty of experience but were ready to do what they needed to do right away. I believe our players will do that as well this week.”
In the end, McDonald just wants everyone to enjoy themselves.
“These guys couldn’t wait to go hit somebody again, but really this is all about having fun,” he said. “The name of the game is to compete anytime you strap it on. Who wouldn’t want to go against the best they have to offer? You always want to go against the best.”
2018 NORTH TEAM ROSTER
QB – Calvin Littles, St. Francis Catholic QB – CJ Strange, Williston RB – Uveekie Fields, Hawthorne RB – Jaylin Session, Palatka RB – Quinyon Mitchell, Williston RB – Niles Cromwell, Gainesville RB – Jeremiah Vaughn, Bradford RB – Pernell Sylvester, P.K. Yonge WR – Bobby Fulton, Columbia WR – Devonte Bowie, Hawthorne WR – Ben Massey, Lafayette WR – Treyvon Williams, Palatka OL – Caleb Kessler, Branford OL – Jared Martin, Buchholz OL – Pete Meyers, Eastside OL – TJ Jenkins, P.K. Yonge OL – Manny Castillo, Santa Fe OL – Clay Sipprell, Palatka OL – Jadarius Powell, Eastside OL – Aaron Weeks, Dixie County
DL – Taurus Coleman, Bradford DL – Richard Gormley, Buchholz DL – Wyatt Hammond, Chiefland DL – De’Shamar Shepherd, Chiefland DL – Thomas George, Oak Hall DL – Petey Peterson, Santa Fe DL – Tyler Alexander, Union County LB – Jevin Johnson, Branford LB – Eli Bray, Dixie County LB – Sheldon Hardy, Eastside LB – Colton Spears, Bell LB – Xavier Fleming, Lafayette LB – Octavious Lee, Williston S – Johnathon Walls, Bell S – Mike Reed, Hawthorne S/CB – Carlos Williams Jr., Dixie County CB – Earley Young, Eastside CB – Deonte Graham, Santa Fe CB – Alphonso Williams, Hawthorne CB – Keyshaun Young, Union County CB – K’shawn Russell, Palatka
K – JP Dallazem, Oak Hall P – CJ Reed, Dixie County
Head Coach – Marcus McDonald, P.K. Yonge Assistant Coaches: R.J. Fuhr, Oak Hall; Kevin Doelling, P.K. Yonge; Cedderick Daniels, Eastside; Jim Akins, P.K. Yonge; Scott McDaniel, St. Francis Catholic; Joey Whittington, Bell