The area’s top players will get one last chance to shine today when the Subway/PSA All-Star football game is held at Pace High School.
Seniors from Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties will represent their schools one last time on the gridiron when the West squad, made up of Escambia County schools, takes on the East in a 7 p.m. kickoff.
“It’s been pretty fun, playing with the best of the best in the area,” West Florida defensive end Rocel McWilliams said. “I think it’s an honor to play with the guys from Catholic and other schools.
“It’s been pretty fun. Some of the guys I don’t really know, I just know them from playing against them. A lot of them have different personalities, a lot of them are fun and laid back. It’s just been a lot of fun getting to know them.”
The bonding experience has been pretty smooth for the West team, simply because most of the players faced off with each other at some point during the course of the season.
It’s been a little different on the East squad, as Okaloosa rivals join Santa Rosa rivals to form the squad. And despite Niceville players not participating in tonight’s game because the Eagles will be playing for the Class 7A state title at 6 tonight in Orlando, the team still is heavy on Okaloosa County players.
In fact, a little more than half of the roster is made up of players from Baker, Choctaw, Crestview, Fort Walton Beach and Rocky Bayou.
“It’s different because I’ve never played Baker or Rocky Bayou,” Gulf Breeze offensive tackle Nick Dugger said. “We don’t play Crestview. It’s cool because you get to meet new people and see what they do at their schools and match our skills up at practice.
“I think it’s definitely fun. It’s a great experience to play in this game.”
The West squad is being coached by Pensacola High coach Mike Bennett and assistant coaches from Escambia County teams. The East is being coached by Navarre coach Jay Walls and assistant coaches from Santa Rosa and Okaloosa county teams.
“We have a pretty good football team,” West Florida safety Kenny Davis said. “The first two days of practice were pretty intense. It was a little cold, but we worked through it, and I think we’re coming together.
“I want to end my high school year with a win. Hopefully, we’ll win on Friday.”
With the exception of Niceville, which can still win a state title tonight, every player on the field tonight didn’t end his season the way he had envisioned. So tonight’s game gives all of the athletes one last chance to go out with a positive memory.
“I’m excited about it,” Catholic defensive tackle Nelson Hale said. “It just feels good to be able to put on a helmet against one last time.”