By Tim Hipps
IMCOM Public Affairs
SAN ANTONIO – Wide receiver James Quick caught the game-winning 34-yard touchdown pass and received the Pete Dawkins Most Valuable Player trophy for helping the East to a 15-8 victory over the West in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Jan. 5, at the Alamodome.
Quick caught three passes for 71 yards and returned a punt 31 yards, giving him a game-high 102 all-purpose yards before an Army All-American Bowl record crowd of 40,133 and a national television audience on NBC.
“Since it was on a national stage and I got to do it with people I just met and actually got to bond with, it means a lot – it’s probably going to be one of my greatest memories,” said Quick, a senior at Trinity High School in Louisville, Ky., who announced during the game that he would stay home and play college football for Louisville. Quick chose the Cardinals over Ohio State and Oregon, ending one of the most highly followed recruiting sagas in the history of Louisville football.
Quick’s touchdown reception from Auburn-bound quarterback Jeremy Johnson of Montgomery (Ala.) High School gave the East a 13-8 lead with 3 minutes, 59 seconds remaining in the game.
“We were waiting until fourth down to make that call to James because we wanted to make sure they were in zero coverage,” said East head coach Robert Bailey of Louisville Trinity High. “We didn’t want to do it on first or second down because we knew they would be in zone, so we waited until fourth down when we had to. Jeremy Johnson, the quarterback, had to escape a little pressure and made a great, great throw.
“It kind of hung a little bit, but you teach receivers to go and get it at its highest point, and last time I looked he was a pretty good athlete. He went up there and got it.”
Alabama-bound running back Derrick Henry, the No. 1 career rushing leader in high school football history with 11,610 yards for Yulee (Fla.) High School, capped the scoring with a 3-yard sweep around right end for the two-point conversion.
“I said, ‘Coach, give me the ball for the two-point conversion,’” Henry said. “He gave it to me and we got it done.”
Beatty figured the call was a no-brainer.
“We went to an unbalanced set and we felt like we could get it,” Beatty said. “He’s a horse, man. He’s 240 pounds with a lot of speed. The kid in front of him, Derrick Green, did a great job of blocking with our unbalanced line. We felt like we could get to the edge. We told him to stretch, stretch, stretch until they couldn’t take it away anymore, and consequently he got the edge and you saw what happened.”
Henry, who rushed for a game-high 53 yards on 10 carries, also scored the East’s first touchdown on a 2-yard run in the first quarter. Jim Cooper of Linwood, N.J., Mainland High School kicked the point after touchdown for a 7-0 lead. Running back Derrick Green of Richmond, Va., Hermitage High, added 48 yards on eight carries.
Oregon-bound Thomas Tyner of Aloha (Ore.) High School led West running backs with 14 yards on four carries.
The West led briefly in the fourth quarter via Texas A&M-bound wide receiver Derrick Griffin’s 16-yard touchdown reception from University of Southern California-bound Max Browne of Sammamish, Wash., Skyline High School. Brown connected with Louisiana State University-bound tight end DeSean Smith for the two-point conversion and an 8-7 lead with 6:49 remaining.
The West scoring drive was highlighted by Browne’s completions of 19 yards to Ezekiel Elliott of St. Louis John Burroughs High School and 14 yards to USC-bound Steven Mitchell of Mission Hills Calif., Bishop Alemany High, along with a pass-interference penalty that gave the West a first down at the East 44-yard line.
The East quickly answered with Virginia Tech-bound Taquan Mizzell’s 72-yard kickoff return to the West 28, followed by Quick’s touchdown reception from Johnson in a climactic, fourth-and-16 situation.
“I just saw the corner and I went to the post and he bit on it, and the quarterback threw an outstanding ball and just gave me the opportunity to run to it,” Quick said. “I really just let it drop into my hands and tried to keep it away from the defenders closing in on me.”
Henry then outsprinted most of the West defense to the corner to cap the scoring.
Beatty praised the East defense for its effort all week.
“Gosh, we had to go against those guys all week and we just got so frustrated on offense that we said, ‘We’re going to try to get some timing down on air because we certainly aren’t doing it in practice,’” Beatty said. “We hung in there and got it done. What a great way to finish.”
Quick, too, was delighted to face someone other than East defensive backs who learned most of his moves during a week of two-a-day practices.
“It was fun getting out here to compete against someone different because we’ve been going all week against the same guys,” Quick said. “Getting out here and competing with some of the best is a great experience.”
East defensive line coach Dwayne Thomas of Eastern Christian Academy in Elkton, Md., said his group succeeded with speed and a winning attitude set by Beatty.
“We stunted, we slanted, we pinched,” Thomas said. “We gave them a lot of trouble. If not for a third-and-9 where we missed a tackle on the perimeter, we would have shut them out. I expected us to do that. When you get guys up front that are hungry and relentless, the other team has got a problem. We controlled the game in the trenches.”
The East limited the West to four first downs and 90 total yards.
Georgia-bound Tray Matthews of Newman (Ga.) High and Georgia-bound Johnny O’Neal of Dublin, Ga., West Laurens High each had four tackles for the East, which got three apiece from Al-Quadin Muhammad of Ramsey, Tenn., Don Bosco Preparatory School and Clemson-bound Dorian O’Daniel of Our Lady of Good Counsel High in Olney, Md.
Tahaan Goodman of Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) High, University of California at Los Angeles-bound Myles Jack of Bellevue (Wash.) High and Indiana-bound Antonio Allen of Indianapolis Ben Davis High each had five tackles for the West.
Quick said the weeklong experience in “Military City USA,” exceeded his expectations. Each of the 90 players in the game was paired with a “Soldier-Hero,” who accompanied them to pre-game events and escorted them onto the field for pre-game introductions.
“When I met my soldier, he told me his life story and I really wasn’t expecting that, so I told him mine,” Quick said. “Having someone to talk to, keeping that bond with your soldier, is really what helped me out.
“He was a younger guy, and he didn’t like me calling him ‘sir.’ He told me: ‘Just call me Justin.’ We had a real heart-to-heart talk about things that happened in war and things that he’s been going through with his back problem. They really do a lot more than what people think. With them telling you what they do that you don’t know of, it really changes the way that you think about how good you have it because most people don’t have it the way you do.”
Most kids don’t grow up to be U.S. Army All-American football players, a sure-fire step to an NCAA Division I football grant-in-aid. More than 175 alumni of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl are currently playing in the National Football League, including Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and New York Jets quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow.
“Kids need role models,” Thomas said. “I’ve got my hand around their neck and they don’t know if I’m choking them or hugging them, but they want discipline. They want somebody who has purpose, passion and commitment, and somebody who is going to teach them and push them towards discipline.
“We set a tone early in the week and those guys met the challenge. I’m proud for them that their last high-school game was a victory and it was amongst the best in the country. Now they can go to college with a real sense of confidence.”