Close to 90 standout high school athletes representing Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and school districts from as far away as Connecticut, will compete in TRU Sports Foundation's Third Annual Private vs. Public All Star High School Football Game.
The game, which will be held in partnership with Trainers R Us, Inc., will be played at McArthur High School football stadium on Friday, January 6, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30p.m. All-Star participants will be joined on the sideline by former NFL quarterback and Miami Dolphin Daunte Culpepper along with Oakland Raiders cornerbacks Lito Sheppard and DeMarcus Van Dyke to name a few.
Two years ago, in the inaugural event, the Private team topped the Public squad 12-8 at Monsignor Pace High School before the Public team squared things up at one win apiece with a 26-7 victory last year at McArthur Stadium in Hollywood. Thus the Jan. 6 contest will represent the "rubber" match.
The Private/Public All Star game is an effort to provide graduating seniors an opportunity to showcase their talent among their peers, and obtain one last look by coaches and recruiters, representing colleges and universities across the country. In order to be considered for participation, students are required to maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average and have already taken the ACT or SAT exam.
Some of the top talent participating in this year's contest will be, from the Private schools, Calvary Christian quarterback Javan Shashaty who set all kinds of single season and career passing records at CC, St. Thomas Aquanis wide receivers Gavin Sinclair and Nico Shepherd, Gulliver Prep. quarterback Dalton Easton and Belen Jesuit running back Imani Davis.
Fresh off leading the Miami Norland Vikings to the Class 5A state championship, quarterback Tony Thomas will help lead the Public All-Star team offensive attack along with two other QBs, Shawn Parrish of Miramar and Joe Villar of McArthur who will be playing on his home field.
"I commend the TRU Sports Foundation for providing this type of opportunity and exposure to these players," said Van Dyke who played four years at Monsignor Pace and four more at the University of Miami before being a third round draft pick of the Raiders last April. "Coming from the same neighborhood as many of these kids, programs like these are so necessary in helping to ensure talented athletes, who may have been overlooked, have an opportunity to be seen by college coaches. That second or third look might be the one to make a difference, and help them realize their dream of getting a college education and playing football."
The game was not the only big event this time. Last week (Dec. 22) some of the participating players visited the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood, where they distributed toys to children who are hospitalized for the holidays, and a Media Day press event will be held on Friday, Dec. 30 where they will have an opportunity to gain interview experience and be addressed by members of the media. As an added benefit, during the game, two students will be awarded with a $500 scholarship to assist them as they work towards getting a college education.
The game will also feature a “Battle of the Bands” Halftime event between rivals Miramar High School’s Patriots and Miami Carol City’s “Marching Chiefs.” Gameday sponsors include LaLey Sports, Wing Stop, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Tax Network Group and U18 Sports Medicine.
"This All-Star Game is a unique opportunity for these athletes to showcase their talent, and we are proud to have received such a high level of interest from athletes around the country willing to travel to South Florida to participate in this game," said Mario O. Smith, Executive Director of the TRU Sports Foundation. "We are extremely excited to host an All-Star Game that not only allows players, parents and fans alike, the opportunity to experience an action-packed and competitive contest between some of the state's top ranked schools, but incorporates time in the schedule for athletes to go out and make a difference in the lives of others, truly making this a community-wide event."
Game tickets are $5 for high school students with a valid I.D. and $10 for general admission (Children under 5 admitted free). For more information about the game or sponsorship opportunities, contact Smith or Claudienne Hibbert at 305-740-2822 or visit www.trusportsfoundation.org.
Teams will be practicing this week at Chaminade-Madonna. Next week, they will move to Ferguson Park in Miami Gardens.