East's beastly defense tests West's football all-stars
January 14, 2011
SAN ANTONIO -- After a start that saw neither team in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl cross the 50-yard line or make a first down for much of the first half, the East team finally found its mojo in the fourth quarter and pulled out a 13-10 victory over the West high school football all-stars at the Alamodome Jan. 8.
The patriotic buzz from the variety of pre-game ceremonies were about the only thing keeping the record crowd of 37,893 awake during the first quarter as the teams snoozed along for a combined seven punts and four first downs.
A dominant performance by the East defensive line in the second half snuffed out every chance the West offense could muster.
Schools from San Antonio and surrounding areas like Seguin and Cibolo had the game's highest local representation, with six area players invited. There has been a local player in the game's previous 10 editions, and 22 total area alumni.
Local players included Seguin offensive lineman Joseph Cheek, Sam Houston defensive lineman Quincy Russell, along with defensive tackle Marquis Anderson and linebacker Ryan Simmons of Steele.
Steele head coach Mike Jinks, who coached the Steele Knights to a Class 5A state championship Dec. 18, was chosen as an assistant coach for the West team.
West running backs, which included Madison's Aaron Green and Steele's Malcolm Brown, were kept from gaining ground for the bulk of the game. Brown, who has committed to the University of Texas Longhorns, had seven yards on three carries and saw most of his action as a fullback or in pass protection plays.
Brown also said after the game he wasn't concerned about the Longhorns' poor record this year or the coaching staff changes taking place in Austin. "I'm just going to go up there and do my best."
Green, who is set to become a Nebraska Cornhusker, had 11 rushing yards on two runs. Green met with dozens of Nebraska fans after the game and said he hoped he could make them proud when he arrives in Lincoln in the fall.
The East held the West to minus-20 rushing yards, which included 12 sacks for 61 yards. Aaron Lynch (Island Coast High School, Coral Gables, Fla.) and Ray Drew (Thomas County High School, Thomasville, Ga.) both had 2-1/2 sacks to lead the way for the beast from the East.
A break in the inaction came in the second quarter as the West took a 3-0 lead as placekicker Ben Pruitt of The Woodlands High School, The Woodlands, Texas, kicked a 22-yard field goal with 7:23 left in the half. The play was set up on an interception by defensive back Stefan McClure of Vista High School in Vista, Calif.
In the third quarter, the West team padded their lead as quarterback Cody Kessler ( Centennial High School, Bakersfield, Calif.) hit wide receiver Jaxon Shipley (Brownwood High School, Brownwood, Texas) for a 35-yard touchdown with 8:22 remaining in the third for a 10-0 lead. Kessler has committed to the University of Southern California, while Shipley will head to UT.
The West held their lead into the fourth quarter when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Miami Northwestern High School, Miami, Fla.) hit WR Miles Shuler (Long Branch High School, Long Branch, N.J.) for a 22-yard touchdown with 10 minutes left to close the gap to 10-6.
Two minutes later, the East team got the ball back two minutes later after the West turned it over on downs. East running back James Wilder (Plant High School, Tampa. Fla.) keyed the game-winning, 65-yard TD drive when he took the ball in from three yards for the final score. Wilder finished with 39 yards and the touchdown on nine carries. He also caught a 17-yard pass during the scoring drive.
Although he didn't score during the game, Demetrius Hart (Dr. Phillips High School, Orlando, Fla.) had had eight carries for 100 yards for the East and was selected the most valuable player. Hart was the first player in All-American Bowl history to rush for 100 yards, with the bulk of it coming on a 69-yard run in the third quarter.
"The coaches were looking for somebody to step up and put the team on their shoulders," Hart said after the game. "I figured it might as well be me. I had a lot of help from the guys in front of me opening up holes for me to run through.
"I'm just humbled when you think of the players like (Minnesota Vikings running back) Adrian Peterson who played in this game and I was the only one to ever break 100 yards running," Hart added.
Hart also made some news when he announced during the game he will attend the University of Alabama. He had committed to the University of Michigan Wolverines earlier in the season, but changed his mind when Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez was fired.
Hart told the Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register the reason for his change of heart was "The Michigan coaching change, plus (Alabama) coach (Nick) Saban and I have a good relationship."
The win by the East team also broke a 5-5 stalemate between East and West that dates back to the first All-American Bowl in 2000.