Local All-Stars shine
Rood nabs defensive player nod
December 22, 2009
By BJ Corbitt
ALPHARETTA — Local high school seniors still wondering if they’ll ever suit up in a college football game got one last chance to help themselves out last week, during the first annual Rotary Bowl All-Star Game.
The North team, featuring a mix of players from Forsyth and Fulton county schools, outscored the all-Fulton South team to take the inaugural game 29-7.
Played at Alpharetta High Saturday, the game was open to seniors from Forsyth and north Fulton counties and followed a week of practices and a combine that were open to college scouts.
West Forsyth’s Trey Rood took Defensive Player of the Game honors. The defensive back made two interceptions, six tackles and two assists for the North team, including one tackle that saved a touchdown.
After a senior season that saw him miss several games while undergoing cancer treatment in Germany, Rood was happy for the chance to take the field again.
“It means a lot to get out here just one more time and run around,” he said.
“Coming out here today, I had no clue I’d be carrying this thing home, but I played well and I guess I earned it,” he said, looking down at his player of the game trophy.
Rood has talked to representatives from the University of West Georgia, but is not committed to play in college. He noted that the Rotary Bowl might have been his last organized game.
“There’s nothing like high school football. You know, you’ll never be out in front of an atmosphere like this again and it was fun. It was good to be out here [playing] again,” Rood said.
On the offensive side of the ball, it was Chattahoochee’s Justin Williams taking home player of the game hardware.
The running back picked up 206 yards on 21 carries and scored two touchdowns for the North team.
“It was just a great opportunity, it felt really good to run every play pretty much and just get the yards to help the team,” said Williams, who is not committed to a college.
Williams said it didn’t take long for the North team’s mixture of players from public and private schools around the two counties to become a unit.
“I would say [it happened] the first day. ... I love football. It’s so easy to gel, and that’s what we did,” he said.
Jared Zito of North Forsyth was head coach of the North team. He said several players had performances that should help them as they try to secure spots on college rosters, including Williams and his Chattahoochee teammate Kevin Martin (54 yards rushing, 2 yards receiving, 14 yards passing, touchdown).
“Those two kids are a little undersized, but if college coaches are a little bit ... concerned about their size, the bottom line is they can both play,” said Zito.
On the defensive side of the ball, Zito pointed to Rood and lineman Jeremy Phillips of Blessed Trinity as standouts.
“I think there were several guys that did some things today that can help them,” Zito said.
Other Forsyth players with memorable days were West’s Frankie Hepler, who caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Martin in the fourth quarter; West’s Reese Patton, who scored a 1-yard touchdown run during one of his snaps under center late in the first half; and North’s Aaron Busse, who kicked a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter and was involved in the play of the game, a hook-and-ladder between South Forsyth’s Josh Hand, himself and Williams with 10 minutes left in the game. The play went 64 yards and gave the North team a 22-7 lead.
Zito said the call was an inspired one from Tim McFarlin, his offensive coordinator from King’s Ridge Christian School.
“Coach Mcfarlin ... and all our kids, they practiced that play a bunch this week, and it was the right call at the right time and it was a big play for us,” Zito said.
Zito hopes the event will help raise the profile for programs and players in the area.
“A lot of times you hear a lot about Cobb and Gwinnett counties, and [to some extent] Fulton and certainly Forsyth get overlooked, especially some of the private schools,” he said.
“Hopefully this will get bigger and better and every year will really be something people look forward to. I think it’s a great way to put some schools on the map that maybe a lot of people don’t know a lot about.”