Dutchtown coach Kevin Jones, a former defensive coordinator at Lovejoy, will coach the Georgia squad for a second straight season against a Florida all-star team. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
STOCKBRIDGE — Last year, Kevin Jones only had eight days to evaluate, assemble and prepare some former Georgia high school players for an all-star game in Florida.
The result was a loss for Jones, who has just completed his first season as head coach at Dutchtown.
“I got a call from a promoter, and he wanted me to get together an all-star team,” Jones said earlier this week. “We had very little time to prepare. You could tell the Florida team was prepared and had a few practices under their belts.”
Such isn’t the case this season for Jones, as he had almost an entire year to evaluate players for today’s second annual Florida vs. Georgia High School All-Star game in West Palm Beach, Fla. Jones says he likes his team’s chances this time in the 6 p.m. game, which will be aired on Fox Sports Florida.
With much more preparation time, Jones is hopeful for a better outcome than last year’s 22-7 loss, which was aided by five turnovers. Team Georgia’s lone score came off an interception return.
“We sent out emails and letters to every coach in Georgia asking them for players that would like to be considered for the team,” Jones said. “I think the committee did a great job this season.”
There are 10 players from the Southern Crescent on the Georgia roster.
One of the top players from the area, Kendarius Webster is slated to play in the contest. Webster is considered one of the top defensive backs in the country. He has already committed to Ole Miss.
Also playing on the defense is former Lovejoy defensive end Randy Anyanwu, who has verbally committed to Western Kentucky. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder played for Jones when he was the defensive coordinator at Lovejoy.
Together, they helped lead the Wildcats to the Class AAAAAA title game.
“This is a big honor for me to play in this game,” Anyanwu said. “This is a real big game. It is for bragging rights. We are going down there to get the win.”
Luella defensive back Steve Osondu will be taking part in his second all-star game during the holiday break. Three weeks ago, he played in the D.L. Scott Coalition Bowl Senior All-Star Game at the Georgia Dome. The all-region defensive back had 88 tackles and three interceptions this past season for Luella, which made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
The offense should have plenty of firepower with Tyler Herman of Collins Hill and Jaquez Parks of Griffin leading the attack. Parks led Griffin to the Class AAAA championship and was named the Georgia Sportswriters Association all-class Player of the Year.
In leading Collins Hill to the Class AAAAAA quarterfinals, Herman passed for a Gwinnett County-leading 2,968 yards and 34 touchdowns this season. Parks, who has offers from Air Force, Georgia Tech and Harvard, accounted for 4,969 yards and 45 touchdowns in leading the Bears to the state title.
Mundy’s Mill record-setting running back Rodney Smith will also play on the Georgia squad along with Riverdale wide receiver Rashad Canty.
Smith, who rushed for 2,201 yards and 26 touchdowns, helped led the Tigers to a school-record eight wins and an appearance in the Class AAAAA quarterfinals.
“We have several players that had choices to play in some bigger games also,” Jones said. “I think they liked the idea of representing the state in this game.”
“Yes, we want some revenge,” he said. “I know those Florida boys liked the fact they won last season. It is all about bragging rights.”