By Marty Pallman
Twitter – @mpallman
With the high school football season coming to an end last weekend at the FHSAA Football Finals at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, most players, parents, and fans can sit back and enjoy the holiday season.
But 86 high school seniors are being rewarded for the hard work and success on the field in 2018, and are back on the field this week practicing for the North Central Florida All-Star Classic presented by Legacy Team Sales, which will kickoff
Friday night at 7:30 p.m. from Trinity Catholic High School in Ocala (GAME POSTPONED TO MONDAY, DEC. 17 AT 7 P.M.).
The South All-Stars will be coached by Vanguard (Ocala) head coach Edwin Farmer. He led the Knights to a 12-1 record this season and a trip to the 6A regional finals.
Farmer will be the head coach in this game for the first time. He is no stranger to All-Star Games, and will also coach in the U.S. Army All American Bowl in San Antonio on Saturday, January 5. He always looks forward to coaching in these games.
“It’s great to get to coach again and coach some guys you normally have to play against,” he said. “Another advantage is a lot of these guys are already very good players and know the game, so you can be a little more advanced and not worry as much about coaching fundamentals.”
The South offense will be led by Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville) running back Mike Weston, who led the state in rushing with 2,893 yards and 34 touchdowns in guiding the Sharks to an 11-2 finish and the regional finals in 5A.
Weston was definitely proud of his and his team’s accomplishments in 2018.
“We (Nature Coast) decided to use a run power offense and we manhandled everyone all season,” he said. “It felt really good to lead the state in rushing and just kind of run over people.”
Weston is joined in the South backfield by North Marion (Citra) running back Joleeco Gaskin II, who rushed for 1,606 yards and 19 touchdowns in leading the Colts to a state runner-up finish in 5A.
Gaskin’s teammate, quarterback Corey Wilsher, was selected to play in the game but suffered a leg injury in last week’s state championship game against Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale).
Farmer says another advantage to coaching in this game is having this much talent, and the South team definitely has that at running back.
“Weston is a different guy,” Farmer said. “He is huge, bigger than I realized until I saw him practice. And Gaskin from North Marion gives this team a pretty potent backfield.”
Hernando’s (Brooksville) Israel Fields and Corey King of Trinity Catholic (Ocala) were also selected to the squad at running back along with Vanguard’s Kimo Clarke.
The quarterback for the South is King Redd of Trinity Catholic, while the wide receivers consist of a pair from West Port (Ocala) – Dominique McBride & Bryce Ramirez, along with Travis Isaac and Tenefa Ruckard from Vanguard.
The defense is highlighted by three players from Dunnellon, which advanced to the 4A state semifinals, losing to now two-time defending state champion Raines (Jacksonville). Defensive lineman Julian Tucci and linebackers Maurice Jefferies and Kelvin Stocker represent the Tigers.
Vanguard also has three players on the South roster, with defensive lineman Tyler Lecorn, linebacker Nathan Leslie, and safety Markheem Glover named to the squad.
Glover is fired up to play again and get back on the field.
“I had a great senior season even though it ended earlier than we (Vanguard) wanted it to,” he said. “It’s good to be here playing for a lot of Vanguard coaches and we are looking forward to getting out on the field and showing the South is coming and means business.”
Overall, the South is represented by six players from Vanguard, including Farmer and five of his assistant coaches.
“I like the opportunity to work with these coaches again as well,” Farmer said. ” But I also like the opportunity to meet some other assistant coaches like Coach Burkhardt (Dunnellon) and Coach Gates (Trinity Catholic).”
Nature Coast Tech, and Hernando have four apiece, and seven teams, including West Port, Dunnellon, North Marion, Trinity Catholic, and The Villages have three representatives.
Weston is happy to be playing with some guys he usually only gets to play against, but is ready to measure up against the guys on the other side of the field this Friday night.
“I know some of these guys from camps, but I love the change to get to play with them,” he said. “I am ready to see what they (North) are all about. We are going to show them what this South team is all about.”
2018 SOUTH TEAM ROSTER
QB – King Redd, Trinity Catholic QB – Boston Tafelski, Hernando RB – Israel Fields, Hernando RB – Mike Weston, Nature Coast RB – Corey King, Trinity Catholic RB – Joleeco Gaskin II, North Marion RB – Kimo Clarke, Vanguard WR – Travis Isaac, Vanguard WR – Dominique McBride, West Port WR – Bryce Ramirez, West Port WR – Tenefa Rackard, Vanguard WR – Dakari Thornton, Vanguard OL – Jacob Hackney, Hernando OL – Logan Wellman, Nature Coast OL – Chase Kleehamer, North Marion OL – Ryann Hinton, South Sumter OL – Mario Lockhart, The Villages OL – Colton Ostermyer, The Villages ATH – Sebastian Class, Weeki Wachee
DL – Foster Hawthorne, Brooksville Central DL – Tyler Lecorn, Vanguard DL – Julian Tucci, Dunnellon DL – Grant Aderholt, Forest DL – Glen Gardner, Seven Rivers Christian DL – Isaiah Patterson, Lake Weir DL – Myron Forbes, Lake Weir LB – Hayden Dodgen, Brooksville Central LB – Brendan Rooks, Citrus LB – Maurice Jefferies, Dunnellon LB – Bronson Tafelski, Hernando LB – Corey Peterson, Nature Coast LB – Nathan Leslie, Vanguard LB – Kelvin Stocker, Dunnellon LB – Joseph Machado, The Villages S – Tawoun Sherrif, West Port S – Markheem Glover, Vanguard S – Brian Strickland, Weeki Wachee S – AJ Ocon, Trinity Catholic S – Amar Walker, Weeki Wachee CB – Jordan Jackson, Forest CB – Gene Reid, Lake Weir CB – Shaumar Lawson, Nature Coast
K/P – Nixon Mejia, Lake Weir
Head Coach – Edwin Farmer, Vanguard Assistant Coaches: Devon Jenkins, Vanguard; Josh Burkhardt, Dunnellon; Tyrell Munnerlyn, Vanguard; Jeremiah Gates, Trinity Catholic; Chris Bennett, Vanguard; Derrick Smith, Vanguard; Mikey Pinard, Vanguard