All-Stars Play Final High School Football Game
By Dave Walters
The East squad could not get its offense on track and the defense could not stop the West as the West rolled to 28-0 win in Thursday’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes East-West All Star Football Classic at Bishop McLaughlin High School.
Players from Zephyrhills, Zephyrhills Christian Academy joined forces with players from Wesley Chapel, Cypress Creek, Pasco, Wiregrass Ranch and Land O’ Lakes to make up the East squad. The West team was made up of players from Mitchell, Gulf, Hudson, Sunlake, Fivay, Bishop McLaughlin and River Ridge. The senior-only event was the final high school game for these players. In the six-year history of the game, the series is tied 3-3.
ZCA quarterback Nick Novo played the entire game leading the east offense. Novo, who played two seasons at ZHS got the opportunity to play new players as well as current and former teammates.
It was just as much an honor for the coaches as it was for the players.
“It was fantastic,” said Cypress Creek coach Michael Johnson, the head coach for the east. “It’s has been super fun. I’ve been part of it for the last three years. To be part of it, it has been great coaching these kids and seeing all these personalities. It is a fun atmosphere for the last few weeks.”
The annual event gives seniors players one last opportunity to play and a chance to get to know other players from programs throughout the county.
“This is great,” said Zephyrhills defensive tackle Dajuan McCullough. “These guys are talented and we played against them, so we’ve seen it firsthand. It just makes this team stronger. It’s great to play alongside them now.”
The reality of the finality of their high school career set in making the game more special.
“It’s been fun. It’s nice meeting new people,” said Zephyrhills receiver Clayton Cornelius. “It’s crazy to believe it’s my last high school game. It has just gone by so fast. I played with my Zephyrhills teammate for four years and here we are at our last game together. It’s just crazy.”
For Zephyrhills offensive lineman Jarrin Galyan, the All-Star game has been like a reunion.
“I’ve known a lot of these guys,” Galyan said. “Some of them, I went to elementary school with and some I played youth football with. It’s nice to come together for this. At practice, we’ve been laughing it up. It’s nice.
“It’s a great honor and a great amount of talent. To be named up there with them is great. I’ve watched guys play in this game and now I get to be on the field. It’s a lot of fun. The seniors always told me how fast it goes and here I am playing my last game.”
ZCA senior Bakari Sampson pointed out that the game takes him back to his childhood.
“I played with a lot of these kids since I was little,” said Sampson. “It’s like we don’t play at different schools. We’re back together one last time.”