Sunlake head football coach Bill Browning has one more game on the sidelines this year.
It’s not a playoff game.
It doesn’t count in the standings.
He’s not even coaching his Seahawks this time.
Still, it’s an important game.
“It’s something that a lot of the coaches have wanted here for years. I’ve been pushing for it for a long time,” Browning said. “It will be the very first one. It’s kind of a big deal.”
The big deal is the Pasco County East-West Classic, the county’s first all-star football game. The best of the best will go head-to-head in a contest on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m., at Sunlake High School, 3023 Sunlake Blvd., in Land O’ Lakes.
The game, organized by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, will have players squaring off from opposite sides of the county.
Players on the East team will represent Land O’ Lakes, Wiregrass Ranch, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills, Pasco, Bishop McLaughlin and Zephyrhills Christian Academy.
Players on the West team will represent from River Ridge, Ridgewood, Mitchell, Anclote, Hudson, Fivay, Gulf and Sunlake.
Sunlake was placed on the West team for competitive balance purposes, Browning said.
Each team features top athletes who were selected by the coaching staff.
Browning is coaching the West team, with the other school’s coaches serving as his assistants. On the East side, the head coach will be Wiregrass Ranch’s Mark Kantor. Each roster of players is made up entirely of seniors.
The teams will only have a few practices together before the contest, so the game plans probably won’t be too complex.
The game is valuable to the players because if offers one more chance to impress teams at the next level, Browning said.
“It gives an opportunity for college coaches to see them in an all-star game against other very good players,” Browning said. “It’s just really a chance for the seniors to go out, have some fun and showcase their talent.”
For the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, there are additional benefits as well. The group has put in about $20,000 to make the game a reality, and wants area seniors to have another chance to show off their skills. But, they’ll also get a chance to play with teammates and coaches they wouldn’t have met previously, which allows them to foster new relationships and contacts throughout the county.
“They play on their individual teams all year. Now here’s a chance to play with the best from other schools. So there will be bonding, there will be friendships made for life, hopefully,” said Bob Durham, area director for the Fellowship of Christian athletes.
The game also allows coaches to work more closely together and to strengthen their bonds as well. Coaches are instrumental to the FCA, and having them work together is a positive experience for everyone involved, Durham said.
The plan is to make the game an annual event, with head coaching duties and game location possibly rotating from year to year.
Feedback has been positive from everyone involved, Durham said, which isn’t surprising, considering the popularity of football in Pasco County.
“Schools and people and fans love football here, and so this has just been a missing piece of the county in terms of football,” he said. “It fills a void. The community has been looking for this for years, and now it’s finally here.”
Tickets are $10, and parking is $5. Tickets are available at the gate, at the participating schools or at county Beef O’ Brady’s restaurants. For more information, contact Durham at (813) 784-4410, or email .
East All-Star Team 2015 Roster
Scott Edwards, QB Bishop McLaughlin
Matt Iovine, QB Zephyrhills Christian
Tommie Farmer, SS Land O’ Lakes
Jackie Tucker, FS Zephyrhills
Jakiah Fielder, RB Pasco
Brandon Mosley, CB Wiregrass Ranch
Issac Johnson, CB Zephyrhills Christian
Kevin Lee, LB Zephyrhills
Tre’un Everitt, RB Zephyrhills
Patrick Beatty, LB Bishop McLaughlin
Reggie Roberts Jr., CB Zephyrhills
Jacob Carden, FB Zephyrhills Christian
T.J. Lee, LB Zephyrhills
Ty DeCaire, LB Wiregrass Ranch
Blake Castillo, LB Pasco
Mike Mosley, LB Wesley Chapel
Greg Smalls, LB Land O’ Lakes
Cole Blevins, DL Pasco
Colin Hankin, OG Bishop McLaughlin
Tristan Pauwels, OG Wesley Chapel
Alex Ligocki, C Land O’ Lakes
Darryus Lowe, DL Land O’ Lakes
J’Won Pickett, DL Zephyrhills Christian
Naim Smith, OG Wesley Chapel
Kendall Graff, OT Land O’ Lakes
Jamal Mention, OT Pasco
Tyler Ichimura, OG Wiregrass Ranch
Jonah Thomas, OT Zephyrhills
Taylor Bleistein, WR Wiregrass Ranch
Brian Mena, WR Wesley Chapel
Rashawn Kindell, WR Land O’ Lakes
Kyle Kampsen, SS Bishop McLaughlin
Chase Oknefski, K Wesley Chapel
Marque Davis, DT Wiregrass Ranch
Published December 9, 2015