ORLANDO --- To cap off a great week of football, Team Highlight defeated Team Armour, 27-0, thanks to some great defense, led by the top defensive lineman in the country Rashan Gary.
Gary was crowned MVP of the game and was a major impact from the start. He finished the game with 3 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, and tied the game record with 6 tackles. He used his speed to beat every offensive tackle he faced, accumulating two of his sacks off the edge.
Gary is still undecided on which college he will attend but where ever he go, many think he will be an instant impact. Michigan is currently listed as the top school on his list but that can easily change as we approach Signing Day.
Gary wasn't the only one that was balling on the defensive side, Levonta Taylor also had a great outing, finishing with 3 tackles and broke up a pass. On his first play of the game, Taylor came up to hit the future Wolverine running back, Kareem Walker, and jarred the ball loose, which looked like to be a fumble. The referees would call Walker down but it was a beautiful hit by Taylor.
Taylor also had special teams duties, returning three punts for 61 yards. Team Armour elected to kick away from Taylor numerous times and for good reason. When he did get an opportunity to return one, he took it 41-yards down Team Armour's sideline before being pushed out of bounds.
Other Florida State commit, Malik Henry, led all quarterbacks, throwing for two touchdowns and completing eight of ten passes for Team Highlight.
"That was my goal to go out there and sling the rock around and I think that's what I did." Henry said after the game. Henry has an opportunity to start as a freshman with the QB issues the Seminoles faced this season.
After the game, Henry said that he is headed straight to Tallahassee, a sign that he may enroll early.
Team Armour struggled to create some offense all game, only 120 yards total offense and 3 turnovers. The offensive line for Team Armour could not contain Team Highlight pass rush that was led by Gary. Quarterbacks Matt Fink, Woody Barrett, and Jarrett Guarantano all received heavy pressure from the outside and also up the middle.
Tino Ellis had the only big play for Team Armour when he was left wide open for a 51-yard reception but the drive would stall out two plays later when Eric Cuffee snatched the ball away from Joshua Hammond, ending the potential scoring drive. It was that type of day for Team Armour.
Despite the loss though, coach Steve Mariucci still was pleased with the game.
“It's about being selected to this game,” Mariucci said. “It's about meeting these other guys that they're going to be competing against at the college level. They learn a little bit of football, but its a fun week. High School or practice this is a terrific bowl game. The kids practice [and] have fun with their families, so that's what its all about.
Future Hurricane, Dionte Mullins, who had the best play of the day with his one hand grab, spoke about playing against his Taylor, who was his teammate on Team Highlight, in the classic Miami-Florida State rivalry for the next few years.
“I respect him, its all about respect but he going get the work.” Mullins said.
The winning coach, Herm Edwards, has coached in this game since the beginning and doesn't look to stop anytime soon. Like Marrucci, Edwards doesn't think this game is about “Xs & Os” but more so teaching them skills to be successful in life.
[I enjoy it] because I'm an ambassador of football,” Edwards said about coaching in the UA game. “This is my way of giving back to the game of football.”
Earlier in the week, during practice, Edwards gave the players a passionate speech about not being that “guy” in response to hearing the news about TCU quarterback, Trevone Boykin being arrested on assault charges.
The Under Armour game has become synonymous with high school football, only in its 9th game. The top 100 high school players from all over the country come together to participate in the highest level of competition that the high school level can offer. From the practices to the actual game, the players are competing with one another. It's a great event all across the board.