Photo: Craig Cappy Nick England (15), of Collins Hill and Team Crews, grabs a pass and scores a Touchdown. He is defended by RayQuan Sam (18), of MillCreek and Team Jarvis.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- It's not unusual to see some unusual things in an All-Star football game, and such was the case in the 2011 Rivalries of Gwinnett All-Star Game.
For one thing, the intensity lived up to the "rivalries" part of its name, with a little bit of friendly -- and sometimes not so friendly -- jawing and hard-hitting that led to a few minor scuffles after whistles.
More importantly for the team coached by Brookwood's Mark Crews, a pair of players were able to go a little bit above and beyond what they're normally called upon to do for their respective teams to help lead the way for a 31-24 over the opposite team coached by Mill Creek's Shannon Jarvis on Saturday at Mountain View High School.
"It's always nice to win," Crews said. "(The game) had a lot of points. That's good. That's what people come to see."
Nick Schuessler, fresh off leading Grayson to its first Class AAAAA state championship last weekend, helped produce many of those points by putting up the second-most passing attempts of any single game he played in this season in the Rams' run-oriented offense with 17.
He completed 13 of them -- including touchdown passes of 28 yards to Norcross' Anthony Autry and 5 yards to Collins Hill's Nick England -- for 106 yards.
"It was awesome," said Schuessler, whose attempt total was just two short of his season-high of 19 against Brookwood back in October. "Normally, we just pound the clock out (at Grayson). But now, I got a chance to line in the gun. And (Team Crews offensive coordinator and Collins Hill coach Kevin ) Reach did a great job of putting this offense in and letting me throw it around a little bit."
Meanwhile, Alex Armah, who contributed to Dacula's 9-4 season primarily as a blocking back, tight end and linebacker on defense, saw more action running the ball Saturday than he had in all 13 of the Falcons' games combined.
The 6-foot, 200-pound senior tallied a game-high 85 yards, plus a touchdown, including a couple of big first-down runs, one of which came late in the fourth quarter with Team Crews holding on to the seven-point lead.
"It was so much fun running the ball," Armah said. "I haven't run the ball like that in a while. To actually get it in my hands and run down the field felt good."
Schuessler's two TD passes helped give Team Crews the lead for good in the second quarter, while two Armah runs -- a 38-yard rumble that set up a 13-yard TD by Brookwood's Nick Tompkins and his 2-yard TD -- early in the second half helped build the lead to as much as 31-14 with 2:26 left in the third quarter.
"As they say, when you find where the fish are biting, you keep fishing (there)," Crews said of the decision to keep feeding Armah the ball.
But Team Jarvis wasn't about to go down without a fight.
A 12-play, 62-yard drive that lasted 5:20 stretching over the third and fourth quarters ended with Zach Kammer's 25-yard field goal to pull Team Jarvis to within 31-17 with 9:06 remaining.
And just three plays after Hebron Christian's Xavier Railey picked off a Schuessler pass and returned it to midfield, Mill Creek quarterback John Russ hooked up with Peachtree Ridge's Ahmaad Harris for a 38-yard scoring strike to pull Team Jarvis to within 31-24 with 4:40 to play. Russ finished the game with 157 yards of total offense on a team-high 68 yards rushing -- including TDs of 2 and 21 yards -- and 89 yards and a score on 8 of 11 passes.
"John's still undecided on colleges, and we're trying to get some more interest for him," Jarvis said of his quarterback. "This game always presents more opportunities for these kids to showcase their talents for opportunities to play at the next level. I'm extremely proud of him with the way he played."
But Armah, Tompkins and Dacula's Rocky Capobianco made sure Team Jarvis would not have another opportunity with the ball after the ensuing onside kick sailed out of bounds.
The trio combined for 36 yards two first downs over the next eight plays, and when Schuessler sneaked his way for 3 more yards to convert another first down with less than two minutes remaining and Team Jarvis out of timeouts, Team Crews was able to seal the win.
Tompkins also had a big game for Team Crews with 81 yards on 18 carries, while other individuals stood out for both teams, including Grayson defensive end Sebasitan Rice (1 sack, onside kick recovery) for Team Crews, plus Harris (4 rec., 54 yards, TD), Railey (INT) and Central Gwinnett defensive end Francis Kallon (1 sack) for Team Jarvis.
But in the end a fun time was had by all, even Jarvis and his staff and players.
"This game, let's be honest, the rules are geared towards the offenses," Jarvis said. "But I'll tell you, there were some good hits, too. This may be one of best-played games we've had in this All-Star game. ... I know the kids enjoyed it, and that's all that matters."
Notes: A player from each of Gwinnett's football-playing schools were honored at halftime of Saturday's game as a winner of $500 scholarships awarded annually by Sports Medicine South physician Dr. Gary Levengood, who is also the chief of sports medicine at Gwinnett Medical Center. This year's winners were John Case of Archer, Mikel Sessions of Berkmar, Dillon Snider of Brookwood, Tyler Burge of Buford, George Morris of Central Gwinnett, Chris Stewart of Collins Hill, Rocky Capobianco of Dacula, Tim Metille of Duluth, Kalif Raymond of GAC, Devin Gillespie of Grayson, Thomas McMillan Norris of Hebron, Hendhi Agenor of Lanier, Alex Steele of Meadowcreek, Zack Johnson of Mill Creek, Frederick Hill of Mountain View, Isaiah Hinsley of Norcross, Tyler Nemec of North Gwinnett, Bryce Goldsby of Parkview, Harry Obiorah of Peachtree Ridge, Michael Oden of Shiloh, Jareyl Slate of South Gwinnett and Zander Yost of Wesleyan.