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County to host high school all-star game this year

Gwinnett County's football talent is so vast that it now will support its own all-star game.

Organizers announced plans for the Rivalries of Gwinnett All-Star Football Game on Tuesday, with the inaugural event scheduled for Dec. 21 at Brookwood High School. The idea is the brainchild of local coaches Dave Hunter, formerly the head football coach at Brookwood, and Dacula head coach Kevin Maloof.

Those two petitioned the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association as far back as three years ago for a Gwinnett all-star game, but the senior-only event wasn't approved by the GACA and the Georgia High School Association until this year.

The Touchdown Club of Gwinnett - Hunter is the club's executive director - will run the game, which likely will rotate from school to school each year. Gwinnett's football coaches met Tuesday night to finalize plans for the game.

"I think people will be excited about it," said Hunter, who plans to donate a portion of the proceeds to charity. "Now that we've got it, we think it's going to continue to get better and better. We want to showcase the players around here. There's a lot of talent here and some of the I-AA, Division III or NAIA don't get seen. This gives (college scouts) a chance to watch them practice and play for a week."

The rivalry theme is based on the division of the county along rivalry lines - Brookwood opposite Parkview, Greater Atlanta Christian opposite Wesleyan, etc.

One team will feature players from Brookwood, Collins Hill, Dacula, Duluth, Berkmar, Wesleyan, Buford, Shiloh and South. The other squad will have athletes from Parkview, Central Gwinnett, Mill Creek, Norcross, Meadowcreek, GAC, North Gwinnett, Grayson and Peachtree Ridge.

No more than six players per school can make the game, and each Gwinnett program is guaranteed of having at least two players in the game. Each team will feature 33 players and they will don dark teal and white jerseys, similar to those of the Jacksonville Jaguars, in an attempt at neutral colors.

Players who are named first-team All-County or players of the year by the TD Club of Gwinnett earn automatic entry into the game. The remainder of the rosters will be selected by the county's coaches.

For the inaugural game, Hunter will coach one team and longtime Central coach Tally Johnson will lead the other. Gwinnett's head coaches will serve as the two's assistants.

Although the GHSA permits players to compete in two all-star games per year, football players selected to the GACA North-South All-Star Game aren't eligible to compete in the Gwinnett game.

The teams will practice from Dec. 17 to 20, at 11⁄2 hour intervals in shoulder pads and helmets. The practice sites haven't been selected as of Tuesday.