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January 5, 2013
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SAN ANTONIO - It was an afternoon in which the sun warmed up the week-long chill in the hill country of South Texas on the outside for the first time since their arrival.
It was also an afternoon that once again proved on a grand scale that high school football is evolving (literally) daily and the players involved in this particular showcase can truly call themselves some of the best in the entire world at their level and their positions.
The East defeated the West 15-8 in front of a record-setting crowd (announced attendance of 40,103) at the Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome on Saturday afternoon.
Players from the state of Florida along with recruits from around the country that are committed to schools within the Sunshine State were on display as well. Although it was the University of Louisville's James Quick that finished the game as MVP, the State of Florida's All-Time rushing leader that was the leading scorer and was the man that was turning the most heads in San Antonio.
Derrick Henry was the leading rusher with 53 yards on 10 carries, but it was his TD and 2-pt conversion that helped propel the East to victory.
Henry was joined by Delray American Heritage's Greg Bryant (Notre Dame)and Hermitage High School's (Richmond, VA) Derrick Green (6-0, 220lbs) to combine for 131 yards on 26 carries in what could only be described as a defensive slugfest.
Henry's 2yd run with 3:42 left in the first quarter got the scoring started, but neither team was able to solve the defensive equations that both sides drew up.
Neither the East, nor the West squads were able to put anymore points until the final frame.
Not to be deterred, the East was able to drive back down the field less than 3 minutes later to pull within a 15-8 margin. Then it was Henry time.
"Whenever they went down the field, I went to coach [Bob Beatty of Trinity HS in Louisville] and told him whatever we gotta do, give me the ball. We kind of messed up some plays on the final drive, but when we did score I just told coach to give me the ball and let me get the two-point conversion for my team." Henry said.
All-in-all, the experience was exactly what Henry anticipated it to be.
"It was a high level of competition; there was a lot of intensity, a lot of tempo. Both sides of the ball came to play," Henry said. "The West side and the East side came to play. The entire week was a success and today was nothing but fun. It's been a long grind. It's also been a blessing. I just thank God for giving me this ability and this opportunity to do what I do. The reason I'm here is because of him, my family and the coaches that were there along the way."
Henry quiets the doubters for more - click here
Now it's on to the next stage and the next challenge for Henry. The first one begins with him sitting in front of a television watching his now current teammates and classmates fight for a national championship on Monday Night.
"I'm sure I'll talk to them [his future Alabama teammates] after the game," Henry said. "I'll actually be up in Tuscaloosa sitting in front of the TV screaming 'Roll Tide' all day."
Henry's Running Backs Coach, Bill Kramer from Naples High School has coached some greats in his time and has seen some phenomenal performances in his lifetime, but his perspective on Henry as well as his teammates in the backfield is unique.
"I've been very fortunate to coach some greats (at Naples High), but nobody quite a big as 'big country' aka Derrick Henry. All three of those kids (including Greg Bryant & Derrick Green) have such a fast twitch, " Kramer said. "Such a combination of skill-sets together and then to have them altogether at once, that only happens every so often and it's special.
" They made me look real smart and made my job a lot easier, I'll say that. It's not rocket science, and told our Offensive Coordinator Coach Coverdale that the good news is we have really good players (with a laugh)," Kramer continued. "To have those guys together at once though is something that only happens once in a while if at all. All week long we didn't call this an all-star game, we called this a bowl game and all week the (running) backs responded."