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Thomas, Shepherd and Smith on radio

The new year begins on Tuesday night from 9-10 as the Maroone High School Gridiron Report kicks off another active off season.

Joining Larry Blustein on WQAM (560 AM) will be 5A state champion quarterback Tony Thomas from Miami Norland, St. Thomas Aquinas tight end Nico Shepherd and Miami Monsignor Pace assistant coach Mario Smith.

Before National Signing Day, camps, 7-on-7 events and combines completely take over the next eight months, we will put the final touches on this 2011 season with a few more all-star games.

Over the next two weeks, we will cover the Dolphins Under Armour game at Sun Life Stadium on Friday, Jan. 13 and Treasure Coast game on Jan. 14th at John I. Leonard High School in Lake Worth, we will take a look at a growing event. One that has not only drawn the line between public and private, but one that has gotten the state of Connecticut involved.

The third annual Public vs. Private game will take place this Friday night (7:30) at McArthur Stadium in Hollywood.

The game will pit South Florida’s top public and private school players, many who are still looking for that scholarship. The game will also feature six Connecticut players who will add some more competition.

There are two players who certainly showed what they could do during the course of a season, and still, Thomas, and Shepherd, will look at this game as yet another tool in reaching out to colleges across the country.

Thomas led the Vikings to the state championship this past season. Shepherd was one of the most impressive players the Raiders had this year - with head-turning performances against quality opponents.

Shepherd was a part of the Raiders’ national championship team a year ago, and more than did his part this season.

Here are two football prospects who need a game like this. In fact, a number of the players competing on both sides can use this extra film to send out to colleges and universities.

The game has survived because of Smith and a hard working staff that has watched this game grow with more players and schools understanding the need for an event like this.

A number of current NFL players will also be on hand to keep pushing this game in a positive direction.

You can catch the show live on the internet at www.wqam.com. It is also archived at http://sfhighschoolsports.com/