PHOTO COURTESY OF ROY VIERA
By BILL DALEY
Miami Herald Writer
A few months after delivering a pressure-packed long “free-kick” field goal to upset Northwestern, a 29-yard field goal attempt with his team down by two with eight seconds left must have seemed like cotton candy to Belen Jesuit placekicker Sergio Sroka.
And he treated it that way when, after being frozen twice by delays, he calmly and coolly stroked the kick through to give his Private All-Star team a dramatic come-from-behind 18-17 victory over the Public All-Stars in the Tru Sports Foundation’s Third Annual Public/Private All-Star Game at McArthur Stadium in Hollywood in a contest that ended just short of midnight on Friday night.
After victories by each side in the first two contests, the game represented the “rubber” match between the two as the Private squad has now won two of the first three games.
“I just try to block everything out and stay focused on what I have to do,” said Sroka. “The snap was great, the hold was great and all I had to do was swing my leg and put a good foot on it. It feels great to pull this one out.”
Indeed as the Public team dominated the first half in jumping out to a 14-0 lead on the strength of touchdown passes of 4 yards from Norland’s Tony Thomas to Raynard Felder of Carol City in the first quarter and 7 yards from McArthur’s Joe Villar to Charleston Jenkins of Miramar in the second quarter.
But then came the second half and that’s when the real hero of the evening, Calvary Christian quarterback Javan Shashaty took over for the Private team. Shashaty began firing dart after dart to his two favorite targets, Calvary wide receivers Greg Mabin and Shawn Lashbrook along with Belen Jesuit running back Imani Davis.
Trailing 14-2, Shashaty hit Davis on a fourth-down 8-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter to make it 14-9. Then, following a 23-yard field goal by Miami Springs’ Ricky Delapuente early in the fourth, led his team on another long drive, culminating once again on a toss to Davis, this one from 2 yards out with nine minutes left. The two point attempt failed leaving it 17-15.
It looked like Shashaty was going to his team in field goal range when, with 4:55 left and facing a fourth-and-five at the Public 45, he made a perfect throw to Gulliver Prep. wide receiver Max Grigio but Grigio couldn’t handle the throw, giving the Public team good field position.
Led by Thomas, the Public squad then soaked up clock and yardage and eventually found itself in a fourth-and-six situation at the Private 20 with 1:42 left. Delapuente lined up for a 37-yard field goal attempt but, perhaps spooked by a blocked field goal earlier in the quarter that was returned 30 yards, Public head coach Andrew Rhoden gambled and faked the field goal. When the holder rolled right, a receiver was wide open for what would have been the clinching touchdown but the pass was overthrown.
With one last chance and just one timeout, Shashaty, then took over at his own 20 with 1:35 left and coolly drove his team down the field, hitting Lashbrook three times along the way. He would finish the night 31-of-46 for 411 yards and two touchdowns and was named the game’s Offensive MVP. Miramar linebacker Mark Rucker was the game’s Defensive MVP with an interception and nine solo tackles.
“There was never a doubt I could move my team down there and it feels great to help my team pull this one out,” said Shashaty who broke all kinds of Broward County passing records but whose small 6-1, 165 lb. frame has kept his phone quiet as far as college offers. “I’m confident that I can play at the next level but whatever path the Lord has planned for me is the path I’ll take.”
“The kid is amazing,” said Private and Archbishop Carroll head coach Raviel Maisonet. “His football IQ is almost off the charts. From the first day of practice, it was almost like he was inside my head. Like he knew exactly what I was thinking. That last drive was amazing and something only a quarterback with his great decision-making ability could orchestrate. What a great football game. What a great night. Congratulations to Mario Smith for putting on such a great event.”
“What more could you ask for,” said Smith, Tru Sports Foundation Executive Director and founder of the game two years ago as he smiled from ear-to-ear after the game. “What a great finish. What a great football game. This is what it’s all about. We can’t thank our sponsors enough for their support to make this game such a success.”
Sponsors for the game including Wingstop, current Oakland Raider and former University of Miami and Monsignor Pace defensive back DeMarcus Van Dyke, Powerade, Tax Network Group, LaLey Sports, U18 Sports Medicine, , Publix, Gateway Video Production and The Hibbert Group R.E.