TAMPA — Saturday night's Hillsborough County All-Star Game at Raymond James Stadium proved to be a fitting end to the football season.
Because no Hillsborough County teams were in Saturday's state finals in Orlando, there were more players available this year, and thus the intensity and crowd support grew. Saturday's game set an attendance record of 1,878.
Fans watched West senior quarterbacks Aaron Banks (Plant) and Brandon Hawkins (Alonso) shred the East in a 33-20 victory.
The East was led by Newsome senior quarterback, Will Worth, who was named that team's offensive player of the game.
"I really like both of those quarterbacks (Banks and Hawkins)," West coach Matt Kitchie said. "They are a little different with what they're good at, but they're both great quarterbacks."
There were fireworks from the opening kickoff. Banks drove the West first, hitting Jonathan Moore (Jefferson) for a 55-yard gain. Running back Robert Davis (Carrollwood Day) fumbled a play later and Isaac Tanner (Freedom) recovered for the East.
On the East's first play, Worth faked to his running back up the middle but ducked outside, streaking for a 98-yard TD.
Banks, who was named the offensive player of the game for the West, was 11 of 17 for 175 yards and two scores. Hawkins went 9-for-11 for 188 yards and three touchdowns. Shug Oyegunle (Gaither) had touchdown catches of 50 and 26 yards for the West.
Worth engineered a late touchdown drive for the East, hitting receiver Robbie Robertson (Cambridge) as time expired.
"We try to make the experience as fun as possible for the kids," Kitchie said.
Quentin Robinson (Plant City) and senior John Franklin (Blake) wwere named defensive players of the game for the East and West, respectively.
In the state football finals held Saturday at Orlando, Apopka (13-2) turned back a late Weston Cypress Bay (12-3) drive to win the Class 8A title 53-50. The 103 points were the third most ever in the state finals. And in the Class 6A game, Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cook each rushed for two touchdowns as Miami Central (12-2) defeated Gainesville (14-1) 37-14.
Brandon wrestlers claim duals meet title
PLANT CITY — The Federal Division Duals were bereft of championship and consolation rounds, but many wrestlers participated in eight matches during the two-day event hosted by Durant that concluded Saturday.
"The duals format reinforces the team concept," Durant coach Drake Millard said of the nine-round tournament.
Winning as a team is something 12-time defending state champion Brandon knows well, and Saturday was no different as the Eagles came out on top with 624 points. Riverview (401 points) was the runnerup while Lennard (350) hopped over host Durant (319), which had a bye in the ninth and final round.
"It was a great meet," Brandon coach Russ Cozart said. "You get a lot of matches in two days."
The Eagles went 8-0 in the duals, shutting out every team except for a 71-3 win over Riverview. Durant, Lennard and Riverview each posted 6-2 records.
For Riverview coach Wili Sargable: "There were more highs than lows. We use this as an experience to get better."
Connor Barrick, a junior who wrestled at 195 and 220 pounds, went 8-0 for the Sharks, while Dylan Baxter, a senior at 152, and 113-pound junior Michael Parker turned in 7-1 marks.
"It seems like I was doing well with my switches," noted Barrick, who had four pins.
Jeff Carey, a Lennard assistant, was encouraged by the continued development of his wrestlers. "A lot of guys are learning control, and that's an important thing," he said.
Added Lennard coach Ron Buffano, "We lost two matches, so it shows that we're able to handle it and come back."
The top wrestlers for Lennard were Tyler Sierra, who went 7-1 at 145, and 132-pound Herminio Camacho, who was 6-2.
Spoto coach Jim Kauderman, whose team came in second-to-last with 152 points, just ahead of Newsome's 148, focused primarily on the experience factor.
"We don't really have a JV team so this gets more matches for everybody," he said.
While Brandon had its usual number of top wrestlers, Cozart was glad to insert backups Frank Bruno (106), Devon Berrian (120) and Brandon Johnson (195) for some matches.
Steve Lee, Times correspondent, and information from Times wires contributed to this report.