As the Rivalries of Gwinnett All-Star Game turns five Saturday, it does so with much more fanfare than when it first began.
Each passing year has brought more attention to the football showcase for local seniors, and it's become more of a can't miss game for the county's top prospects by the year. When it first began, high school players were permitted only one all-star game appearance, so a handful of the top players chose to play in the North-South All-Star Game or an upper-echelon event like the Under Armour All-American Game.
Now the majority of Gwinnett's top talent, barring injuries, is in the Rivalries of Gwinnett game. Last year's frigid and rainy game brought out a surprisingly large crowd, so an even better showing is expected today with sunny weather in the forecast.
"They still have a choice on whether or not to play in (the Rivalries game), and we don't have many of the top kids in Gwinnett who aren't playing," said Touchdown Club of Gwinnett executive director Dave Hunter, who organizes the showcase. "It's a great showcase for these kids. It's as good as it gets."
Saturday's game - a 1:30 p.m. matchup at Mountain View - follows the traditional format of splitting the county's schools into two teams. The two head coaches this year are Brookwood's Mark Crews and Mill Creek's Shannon Jarvis, and those two are assisted by the remainder of Gwinnett's head football coaches. All of the players and coaches are outfitted with gear with the help of Russell Athletic and Colter Sports.
Crews' squad has Grayson's Nick Schuessler and Archer's Jarvis Holley at quarterback, as well as playmakers Nick Tompkins (Brookwood), Nick England (Collins Hill), Rocky Capobianco (Dacula) and Lavondre Nelson (Greater Atlanta Christian) on offense. Grayson's Fred Zerblis and Brookwood's Jackson Buonamia lead the line.
Jarvis' team has North Gwinnett's Scotty Hosch and Mill Creek's John Russ at quarterback, who are joined on offense by running backs Di Andre Atwater (Peachtree Ridge), George Morris (Central Gwinnett) and Andre Johnson (Buford). Mountain View's Tim Hill, Duluth's Anfornee Stewart, Central's Malachi Jones, North's Chad Scott and Parkview's Jordan Reid also are on that team.