Original Article By: Colin Hubbard via the Rockdale Citizen
The official high school football season in the state of Georgia officially ended two weeks ago with the state championship games being played inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but for several local seniors based out of Conyers and Covington, there is one more game left to be played before they turn in their cleats, pads and helmets for the final time as high schoolers.
Fifteen players representing Salem, Rockdale County, Heritage, Eastside and Alcovy will make the trip to Austell to play in the Elite Raw Talent All-American Bowl on Dec. 28 at South Cobb High School, a 1:30 p.m. kickoff in the first-ever installation of the bowl game set up by former Rockdale County graduate Rodney Williams.
Now running his own company, Elite Raw Talent, geared toward helping high school football players commit and sign with programs at the collegiate level, Williams said this particular All-Star game will be just like a regular high school game with official GHSA rules.
“It’s a real football game,” Williams said. “We’re doing kickoffs, punt returns, everything. We have legit referees, too. A friend of mine owns an official referee company and several of his guys work for GHSA crews. He got me a little crew set up, and I told him to set it up with official GHSA rules.”
To take things to the next level, Williams partnered with Phenom Elite, a custom football apparel company based out of Columbia, S.C., to create the games’ gear. Williams split up the expected 72 players into two teams of 36 — Team Raw and Team Elite.
On Team Raw, nine players to suite up for either a Rockdale County or Newton County school are listed on the roster including six from Salem High School and one from Rockdale County High School, Heritage High School and Eastside High School. Representing the Seminoles include quarterback Donald Wilson, running back Omarious Burnam, wide receiver Tyler Smith, offensive guard Brian Thomas, offensive guard Reco McDaniel and defensive back Artemus McCorkle.
Devron Harper will represent the Patriots at wide receiver, Andre Royal (DB) will represent the Eagles while Rockdale County defensive back Antwan Goseer rounds out the local representatives on Team Raw.
On Team Elite, three players from Alcovy High School, Jalen Banks (DE), Bryson Wilcox (DB) and Eric Johnson (WR) will all suit up while Neontre Asamoah (OG) and Xavier Jennings (OG) and Reco McDaniel will represent Salem. Lavar Washington, a Rockdale County defensive back, is the sixth and final local player on the roster.
In charge of coaching the two teams will include Mundy’s Mill offensive coordinator David Robinson and former Alcovy offensive coordinator Damoio’n Wright.
“I was really excited when Rodney called and asked me,” Wright said. “I was actually watching film when he called me. I thought he was pranking me, but he was serious. I told him yes without a doubt. With this season being really bumpy for me, this will help me out a lot. I can show people that I’m a good guy and I love what I do. I’m all for the kids.”
Williams purposely gave Wright the three Alcovy High School representatives, Banks, Wilcox and Johnson, to give him a much-needed reunion with three players that he knows all too well.
“This will be a very special moment because I love those guys,” Wright said. “I just want them to enjoy it and make some memories. They’ve been around me, and they know we are about to have a lot of fun. This will be their last time playing with each other and my last time coaching them, so I want them to enjoy it.”
As far as the other 58 players set to show off their respective talents in Friday afternoon’s game, several will come from high schools outside the state of Georgia. It was thanks to Williams’ large social media presence that he said he was able to attract a lot of out-of-state talent to play in his game.
“There are kids from all over the country,” Williams said. “There are kids from Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, Ohio and, of course, Georgia. I think the biggest surprise were the kids from Oklahoma. We have about five of them. We tried not to overload it so that kids could get a lot of playing time. I know that in a lot of all-star games, kids play one quarter and then sit on the bench. That’s no fun, so a lot of these kids will play the entire game.”
Williams said that the No. 1 goal outside of allowing the seniors the opportunity to play one more high school football game is to get them one more game of collegiate exposure and hopefully have several players receive offers following the game that haven’t already received some.
“With the rules, D-II and down can come to the practices,” Williams said. “We will have a few of the local schools coming. West Georgia, Fort Valley, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta. Then we’ll have a few coming from out of state from South Carolina. We’re going to live-stream it, as well, so the FCS schools can watch. FAMU will be watching, Mississippi Valley, SC State, Southern Illinois, Gardner-Webb and some others. The mid-majors can watch it online, too.”
With kickoff set for Friday afternoon, Williams said he hopes to see a high-scoring football game and thinks that with Wright and Robinson in charge of the play-calling, two offensive-minded coaches, his hopes will turn a reality.
“I’m expecting to score close to 50,” Wright said. “I told (Rodney) that I’m going to try to make it fun for the fans and most definitely for the kids. I just want those guys to have as much fun as possible since it’s their last ride. It won’t be perfect, but it will be electrifying and fun. I have one or two plays that I’ve been wanting to pull out, and if I have the chance to, I’m going to test them out.”