South's Brazil highlights all-star game

SNELLVILLE - Many of the players in the inaugural Rivalries of Gwinnett All-Star football game grew up playing against each other or on the same team.

Rico Brazil didn't.

The South Gwinnett running back transferred to the Snellville school during the middle of the regular season. Brazil barely knew any of the players in Friday's all-star game at Brookwood High School and they hardly knew him.

And many of the 2,500 fans in attendance had probably never heard of Brazil. After Friday's performance, many people will remember the speedy runner.

Brazil had an 43-yard touchdown run and an 80-yard punt return for a score in the Tally Johnson Team's 21-6 victory over the Dave Hunter Team.

"He's a great player. When they were selecting the team and his name came up, I just said this kid is a player," Johnson said. "I saw him play against us (Central Gwinnett) and I know what kind of football player he is. He's a gamer. He showed tonight what he can do."

In addition to his two scores, Brazil also had 52 yards rushing on eight carries.

"It was a real honor to be chosen for this game," said Brazil, who transferred from Whitefield Academy in September. "I was just real happy to play in the game and show my talent."

Special teams played a big factor in the game. In addition to Brazil's punt return for a touchdown, North Gwinnett's Marquese Quiles had two blocked punts, including one for a touchdown for Johnson's team.

"We made some mistakes," Hunter said. "It's set up to where special teams don't have such a big effect, but we had some snaps that weren't good and then we let the guy run the punt back on us."

After Quiles blocked an Ernst Brun (Shiloh) punt, Dion Dubose (Norcross) recovered and took the ball to the 43.

On the first play, Brazil took it 43 yards for a touchdown followed by a backflip. Parkview's Jordan Stowe added the PAT to make it 7-0.

"He sure made us look silly. He really did," Hunter said. "He just made a good run, he's quick."

Team Johnson's Eric Eberhardt (North Gwinnett) tackled Chandler Priest (Grayson) and then sacked Ira Johnson (Shiloh) to force a punt. Eberhardt finished with five tackles.

Brazil fielded Brun's punt at the 20 and took it 80 yards for the score and capped it off with a dive into the end zone.

"The punter, I did a little move on him, and then it was just my speed and speed kills," Brazil said of the return. "It was Devin Hester, baby."

Johnson's team was hit with a penalty for the dive in the end zone and Stowe connected on the 35-yard PAT.

Team Hunter responded with a nine-play, 80-yard drive. Buford's Demetris Murray finished off the series with a 7-yard TD run. After the PAT missed, Johnson's team led 14-6 with 6:13 left in the half.

Murray was the game's leading rusher with 59 yards on 18 carries.

On Team Hunter's second possession of the third quarter, Quiles got his second blocked punt. Quiles picked it up at the 34-yard line and returned it for a touchdown.

Stowe added his third PAT of the game to make it 21-6.

"I had fun. I want to do it again next week," Quiles said. "I thought I was going to get tackled (on the punt), but I guess I didn't."

After the score, neither offense was able to do much the rest of time. The two teams combined for just four first downs the rest of the game. The game was also slowed down by numerous penalties. The two teams combined for 18 penalties.

Team Hunter got to the five early in the fourth quarter, but Terence Davis' (Brookwood) pass to Josh Jackson (Brookwood) was incomplete on fourth down.

"We didn't get in the end zone," Hunter said. "We had a chance to get in the end zone three times and didn't do it."

Neither team was able to muster much of a passing game. Team Hunter's Ira Johnson was the leading passer with 72 yards on 3 of 4 passing. T.J. Smith was 5 of 16 for 36 yards. Nick Sissine was Team Hunter's leading receiver with two catches for 38 yards.

Team Johnson did not attempt a pass until halfway through the second quarter. Parkview's Derick Heitkamp was team's leading passer with 23 yards, which came on a trick play. Brazil took the handoff and went left and pitched it to Heitkamp, who hit quarterback Nick Sorel (Norcross) for a 23-yard gain.

Team Hunter managed to get another scoring opportunity in the final minutes. Faced with fourth-and-five at the 13, Smith's pass was incomplete and Team Johnson ran out the clock for the win.

"It was great for the kids, but it was nice to work with the coaches and put this together," Johnson said. "Hopefully, it will grow. I had a great week. It's good to get out of retirement like this."

Johnson and Hunter are former coaches in Gwinnett County. Johnson coached at Central Gwinnett and Hunter at Brookwood.

Grayson's Rammell Lewis led Team Hunter with seven tackles and Quanterious Smith (Grayson) added four tackles and two sacks. Buford's T.J. Pridemore had three tackles and Kody Case had four stops.

North' Gwinnett's Donald Maxwell had five tackles for Team Johnson and Chris Doster (South Gwinnett) had four. Michael Longo (Central Gwinnett) had four tackles and one sack and Augustus Dukuly (Norcross) had five tackles and one sack.

"It was great for Gwinnett County and great for the kids. I tell you this is the pick of the litter, and they are all great," Johnson said.

"I think its one of the greatest things for Gwinnett County football and I hope it grows."