Plant High quarterback Aaron Banks said it was unfortunate that he wasn't playing in the Class 8A state final on Saturday night. But he said it with a grin because he was holding a most valuable offensive player trophy and his team, the West All-Stars, had just defeated the East 33-20 under the lights at Raymond James Stadium.
"It was great to come out here and compete with all these great athletes and end my high school career with a victory," said Banks, who completed eight of 12 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. "It was also interesting to come together like this with players who used to be your rivals.
"By the end of the week (of all-star practice) we were all buds working together."
Banks started the game on fire, completing his first six passes and throwing a touchdown to Carrollwood Day School wideout Andy Embody.
But it was Newsome quarterback Will Worth who provided the biggest highlight of the night when he rushed 98 yards for a touchdown on the East's first play from scrimmage.
"(The West defenders) bit down on (the fake handoff to Durant's Jamarlon Hamilton) and then I just hit the hole and took off," said Worth, who recently received an offer from the Naval Academy. "The play just worked perfectly."
Worth, who also threw for more than 80 yards, including a 14-yard pass to Cambridge wideout Robbie Robertson on the game's final play, earned most valuable offensive player honors for the East.
The defensive most valuable players were Blake linebacker John Franklin for the West and Plant City defensive lineman Quentin Robinson for the East.
Through the first half, the game stayed tight with Armwood quarterback Darryl Richardson hitting Bloomingdale's Adam Posateri on a 38-yard touchdown pass to give the East a 14-13 lead.
The West, however, regained the lead late in the second quarter for the first of three unanswered touchdowns to take a 33-14 lead that held until the game's final play.
The West's other quarterback, Alonso's Brandon Hawkins, also had an outstanding night, completing eight of 13 passes for 159 yards.