Fort Meade's Russell Shines in North-South
Thu. December 22, 2011 at 1:33 a.m. | By Blake Hasenzahl
From left to right: JT Hawkins (Winter Haven), Maurice Russell (Fort Meade) and Marvin Wright (Lake Wales). (Photo by BLAKE HASENZAHL)
By Blake Hasenzahl
SEBRING | Fort Meade linebacker Maurice Russell was an absolute stud at the FACA All-Star game, although the team he played for couldn't put things together on offense as the North defeated the South 41-27.
And don't let the final score fool you, it wasn't even close.
Lack of chemistry, huge plays allowed, no time of possession on offense and bad penalties had the South team looking more like the Bucs than an All-Star team.
Russell was one of three players from Polk County who played in the All Star game, which was held in Sebring at Fireman's field on Wednesday night.
It was the last time to shine in high school for Russell, Winter Haven, cornerback JT Hawkins and Lake Wales, defensive tackle Marvin Wright.
But Russell shined the brightest, earning praise from North head coach Phil Ziglar (Orlando-Boone)
"He (Russell) was everywhere," Ziglar said. "We had to work around him. We even tried to sneak around during warm-ups just to see where he was going to play. He forced us to double-team him regularly and always have someone, either a fullback or a linemen, blocking him."
Russell, who started at outside linebacker, finished with 12 tackles, two which broke up fake plays and three for a loss. He's typically a middle linebacker.
"Once they moved me to the middle I was home, I just did what I had to do," said Russell, who was also a defensive captain. "They were avoiding me, they ran the play away from me a lot, they ran inside then out a lot."
Russell didn't make excuses for this team giving up so many points.
"The offense didn't play well but we played the game," he said. "We just had to step it up on defense."
Wright too had a stellar game, making a goal-line tackle on fourth down late in the game.
"I did pretty good, there was a lot of competition out here, every linemen I went up against had either committed to a big division one school or a smaller college," Wright said.
He finished with five tackles and two for a loss — in a foreign role.
"In this system they had me bumping down," Wright said. "At Lake Wales I would move around to the three technique instead of playing the one."
Victory Christian's Demetrius Brim and Kathleen's Kerwin Harrison were also selected to play in the game but didn't attend due to injuries.