Every year the FACA All-Star game is played at The Villages High School! So many amazing players have come through this game and have gone on to have careers in the NFL. Players like Lamar Jackson who played for the Ravens, Sean Taylor, Marlon Mack, Dion Sanders and more have taken to the gridiron in this particular game.
This all-star game is primarily for players who are nominated as some of the best in their respective counties. There is the North Team and the South Team and they compete for the annual title. There are many players who ended up signing their commitment letters too so let’s take a look at what went down!
The South All-Stars were coached by Clewiston Head Football Coach Pete Walker while the North was coached by Bartram Trail Head Coach Darrell Southerland. The teams only had 3 days of practice to prepare for the contest so that can be difficult especially for the offenses.
The game started under overcast skies and misty conditions with temps in the low 60s. The game was much more comfortable than last years edition which saw temperatures in the mid to upper 80s. A nice refreshing game and that produced some great action!
(North Team’s Offensive Lineman Caleb Bevis felt right at home during todays FACA All-Star Event. Bevis becomes the Last High School Buffalo player to ever play at the Original Villages Stadium. The Buffalo get set to open a new state of the art facility next year.)
There were some local hometown hero’s participating in the game including Lake Minneola Wide Receiver, David Ramos, South Sumter Linebacker Jawarren Corbin, Villages Offensive Lineman Caleb Bevis and Wildwood Corner Back Vincent Brown. All these players had great games and for likely all of them it was their final high school level game played in Lake & Sumter Counties.
(North Defensive Tackle Rayqwon Smith was everything you want in a defensive player! He was the real deal!)
The game started off with punts galore as the North and South were locked in a defensive battle. Both defenses were incredible to say the least. The North had standouts Defensive Tackle Rayqwon Smith from Tallahassee-Chilis and Defensive End Charles Green III from Sanford-Seminole who clogged up the middle making it hard on The North to run the ball. Linebacker Zeke Cromwell from Bartram Trail also had a terrific game.
(South Sumter’s very own Jwarren Corbin who plays Linebacker, lead the Raiders to an undefeated Regular Season 12-0. Corbin knows this facility very well, having put a beat down on the Buffalo earlier this year.)
Meanwhile the South also had some awesome defensive standouts including Defensive Tackle Corey Mclntyre Jr from Treasure Coast, Defensive Tackle Andrew Rumph from Palmetto and Linebacker Terrel Redding from Winter Haven. Both teams made the offense really have to work at it and we had a scoreless first quarter.
In the second quarter The South actually had control for most of the quarter but mistakes saw three turnovers which resulted in The North taking the ball down the field. Quarterback Nehemiah Vann threw a ball down the field for a Brooks Hickman touchdown which put the North Up 7-0. They then added on a second touchdown with 10 seconds left In the first half when Quarterback Jamie Hampton from Maddison County threw it to Reed Robinson from Pensacola-Washington and it was 14-0 North at halftime.
During the half we got to see where a few players were going to play their college football careers. Signing during halftime included Xayvion McCluster the 6”1 205lb Linebacker from Largo who chose Campbell college. Andrew Rumph the 6”6 280lb Defensive Tackle committed to UCF. Chauncy Cobb the 5”6 157lb Wide Receiver committed to Arkansas. Jaheim Buchanon the 6”3 280lb Offensive Lineman from Lehigh committed to Florida International University. Last but not least North All-Star Brock Walters the 6”2 215lb Long Snapper committed to Old Dominion.
(Creed Whittemore the Quarterback for Buchholz received the Scott Brantley Trophy which honors the best player in our counties.)
It was certainly a fantastic halftime and all players were surrounded by family and friends as they signed the most important letter of their lives. We also had the Scott Brantley Trophy presented to the best overall player in the county. That honor was presented to Buchholz Quarterback Creed Whittemore who recieved a scholarship check for $2,500 from The Ocala Quarterback Club.
As halftime ended the second half began and boy did The South Team come out looking like they truly wanted to win the game. The North team punted the ball away early on and the South drove right down field but were held to just a field goal. Tyler Patterson would knock it through to make it 14-3 North. However the South then went on to score another touchdown. Quarterback Ryan Anthony from Wellington and Trent Grotjan from Lake Whales played great and Anthony Benjamin the 5”10 170lb Wide Receiver had a 57 yard catch.
(Quarterback for the South Team Trent Grotjan who played his football at Lake Whales had a terrific game.)
The score should have been 14-14 but a key missed extra point by Tyler Patterson kept the South down 14-13 but they soon added another touchdown and went up 20-14 before adding one more field goal to make it 23-14 with just 4 minutes remaining in the game. On the ensuing possession the North had something amazing happen.
Cam Smith the 5”8 170lb Running Back from Baker County returned a kick for a 65 yard touchdown and cut the lead 23-21. There was just 3 minutes remaining but the North kicked the ball to the South and trusted their defense. The South only needed a few first downs to ice the game but they couldn’t do it. The North got the ball back with about 2 minutes and no timeouts.
(North Quarterback Jamie Hampton who played for Madison County relished the opportunity to take the field one more time in 2022.)
The North proceeded to drive down the field. The South had great defense in this second half but Trent Grotjan and the offense just wouldn’t be denied on this drive. Time winded down and with 10 seconds left Grotjan spiked the ball on the 2 yard line of The South. On came North kicker Tyler Patterson for the game winner. He lined up and booked a kick through the uprights to seal the game.
(North Kicker Tyler Patterson kicks the game winner as The North beat The South 24-23).
The North won by a final score of 24-23 in a close one! After the game the MVP was awarded to Corey Mclntyre Jr on the South. On the North Zeke Cromwell get the MVP on the defensive side of the ball and it was Cam Smith who got the MVP for offense. Overall the game was great the atmosphere was palpable and the experience was truly one these players and coaches will remember.
On a truly humble note this was the final competitive game of football ever played at The Original Villages High School Football Field. This field has shared countless memories and hosted every FACA All Star Game since 2014. It’s a fun place to watch a game and we are sad to see it go. We are glad the field isn’t being demolished though. The field will become home of The Junior High School Athletics in The Villages.
(One Final Look – Many people were turning back to get this picture. It will be the final time any high school athletes take the field. It was the final competitive football game at The Original Villages Stadium. They call it the H.G. Morse Range. Although the venue will be different next year and the stage will be even bigger, the humble beginnings of this place will always be remembered.)
Next years game will be at a new venue as the game shifts about 25 minutes south at The New Villages High School Football Facility. The state of the art field will be the best in the state of Florida! and we can’t wait to see what the next generation of players will bring to the table in 2023!
That wraps up coverage of High School Football for 2022. We wish everyone a happy holiday season and we look forward to more commitment and signings for some of these players. Who knows, hopefully we will be seeing some of these young athletes playing on Sundays in the not too distant future!