Team West Edges Out Team East 14-7 in Defensive Struggle to Win the 2023 Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game

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This year’s edition of the fifth annual Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game certainly lived up to the hype as this was the most talented game to date, especially on the defensive side of the football as both teams had a lot of standout players on all three levels of the defense. It showed on a cold late December night at Memorial Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in front of a big crowd.

With all kinds of future college football players in the game and college coaches on the sidelines, it was one final time for them to show off their skills, represent their high school, and go up against players from all over the country including Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Arkansas, and even outside the country as two Canadian football players also went down to the Red Stick to show their talents as well.

After a fun week of events and practices, it was time for the main event with kickoff of the fifth annual Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game.

From the very start, it was going to be evident that points and yards were going to be tough to come by as both defenses were flying around making plays.

After a scoreless first quarter, Team East was the first team to capitalize. After the defense got an interception from Parkview Baptist High School (Baton Rouge, LA) DB Mason Warren, it looked like the turnover was going to be all for not as Team East had to punt the football away, but once again, Team West turned the football over as a muffed punt recovered by Kinder High School (Kinder, LA) DB Donte Botley gave the East Team in prime scoring position inside the 10 yard line. From there, Episcopal High School (Baton Rouge, LA) RB Braeden George was able to get to the edge and score the first points with a rushing touchdown to give Team East a 7-0 lead.

That would end up being the score heading into halftime as both teams were struggling to put consistent drives together, and to make matters worse for Team West, they had to play the entire second half without their standout quarterback in Escambia High School (Pensacola, FL) signal caller Anthony Hall, who was out for the remainder of the game because of injury. Because of that, Comeaux High School (Lafayette, LA) QB Colin Leger and Neville High School (Monroe, LA) QB/WR John Michael Sampognaro had to go the rest of the way in the second half.

The strong Team West defense kept them in the game and kept Team East out of the end zone, but it was the Team West special teams unit that gave their offense the best field position of the game with a big punt return by Comeaux High School (Lafayette, LA) DB Hodges Brown to put them inside the Team East 35 yard line. From there, Team West took advantage as Northwest High School (Opelousas, LA) RB Ja’Vain Reese kept his balance and found the end zone on a 14-yard touchdown run to tie the game up at 7 late in the third quarter.

For the longest time, it seemed that this high intense game with two evenly matched teams was going to be taken to overtime as the game was tied at 7 for a wide majority of the fourth quarter. It seemed that Team West was going to take the lead after a big pass play connection from Leger to Port Allen High School (Port Allen, LA) WR Jarius Wright put the Team West offense inside the five-yard line, but a couple of negative plays forced by the Team East defense forced a Shawn Haenicke Prevost field goal attempt that proved to be wide to the left. The score remained deadlocked at 7, but the Team West defense came up big as Escambia High School (Pensacola, FL) DT Ryan McVay forced a Team East fumble, which was recovered by Westminster Christian Academy (Huntsville, Alabama) LB Zeke Carwile.

That gave Team West great field position once again, and once again, the red team capitalized with Delhi Charter High School (Delhi, LA) RB Deandra Young and Salmen High School (Slidell, LA) RB Jacobi Jefferson breaking off big runs to set up the go-ahead touchdown run from Sampognaro to give Team West their first lead of the game at 14-7 with just under five minutes remaining in the game.

After Team West forced a three and out, it was an opportunity for them to run the rest of the clock out and put the game on ice. Team West was able to do just that as they drew Team East offsides on fourth down and short to preserve the 14-7 victory and give Team West their second straight victory in the Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game.

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Team West, which was led by Escambia High School (Pensacola, FL) head coach Mike Bennett, got the win over Team East, which was led by longtime coach CJ Maiden. The game was also bragging rights for Gridiron Football CEO Andy Bryson, who was the general manager and drafted Team West as he was able to defeat former LSU quarterback Marcus Randall, who was the general manager and drafted Team East.

As a former defensive line coach for Southeastern Louisiana University, this type of game was truly the style that Bryson wanted to play as it turned out to be a defensive game for a full 60 minutes.

It was the type of game that was highlighted by the defenses for both sides of the ball. For the winning side, the defensive front proved to be the difference as the two Team East quarterbacks were sacked a combined six times throughout the game. The Team West Defensive MVP turned out to be Scotlandville Magnet High School DE Tyler Knighten, who was one of the standout performers on a very deep and talented defensive line. The Hornets’ pass rusher ended the game with 3.5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a TFL.

You could have given it really to any of the defensive players for the West team. Warren Easton High School (New Orleans, LA) DE Nasir Hudson, Foster High School (Richmond, TX) DE CJ White, Calvary Baptist Academy (Shreveport, LA) LB Hutch Grace, and Southwood High School (Shreveport, LA) DT Travail Hamilton all had sacks while Escambia High School DT Ryan McVay also stood out with a sack, a TFL, and the pivotal forced fumble that led to the game winning touchdown.

The player that ended up with the fumble recovery was all over the field with six tackles, a TFL, a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble. Zeke Carwile turned out to be the heart and soul of a West defense that was suffocating all night long. The backend also was solid as two Florida defensive backs forced two Beau Perez interceptions in Escambia High School (Pensacola, FL) DB Tadarius Wright and Paxton High School (Jacksonville, FL) DB Tre’von Bell while only giving up just 23 yards passing through the air.

As good as the Team West defense was, the Team East defense deserves a lot of credit also for shutting out Team West in the first half and only giving up 14 points based off short fields given up by special teams or off of giveaways. The Team East defense ended up with seven sacks, an interception, and two fumble recoveries. Perhaps, the most impressive defensive player for both teams was perhaps the Team East Defensive MVP, which was Dutchtown High School (Geismar, LA) DT Diego Spears, who constantly had his name called all night long as he was active throughout the entire game with 4.5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 2 TFLs.

Like the Team West defensive line, the Team East defensive line had some impressive players as Slidell High School (Slidell, LA) DE Jalen Anderson showed his ability to make plays as a pass rusher with two sacks and two quarterback hurries. Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA) DE Blair Rousseau made a big play early in the game by having a fumble recovery, which gave their offense good field position. Southside High School (Youngsville, LA) DT Corey Ledet Jr. had five tackles while Loreauville High School (Loreauville, LA) DE Kaine Olivier added a half sack and Marksville High School (Marksville, LA) DT Demerion Dupas was active with 2.5 tackles and a sack.

Other standout players for the Team East defense were Tioga High School (Ball, LA) DB Ja’Corian Norris, who made a couple of bone crushing hits along with a PBU, Rosepine High School (Rosepine, LA) LB Landyn Lawrence, who paced the defense with 6.5 tackles plus a sack, Newman High School (New Orleans, LA) LB Isaiah Grant, who had a sack, Donte Botley, who had a fumble recovery plus a couple of tackles, and finally, Mason Warren, who forced the first turnover of the game for Team East and added a nice return at the end as well.

Despite the defenses grabbing the headlines, there were some bright spots for both offenses too.

On the losing end, Episcopal High School (Baton Rouge, LA) RB Braeden George was one of the consistent bright spots for the Team East offense as he managed to rush for 84 yards and the team’s only touchdown on 12 carries. The Knights star running back was the Team East Offensive MVP.

Jesuit High School (New Orleans, LA) QB Beau Perez showed flashes in the game. Despite throwing two interceptions, he made some rocket throws and showed off his running ability at 6’5, 220 pounds with some impressive runs. Acadiana Christian High School (Lafayette, LA) QB Samuel Tullos was the other quarterback and he did a good job of running the offense whenever he was inserted in the game.

For Team West, the Offensive MVP turned out to be Neville High School (Monroe, LA) QB John Michael Sampognaro, who really gave the offense a spark with his running ability. The versatile player from Monroe, Louisiana stepped up when his name was called upon as he ran for 24 yards and the eventual game winning touchdown.

Before leaving the game, Anthony Hall showed some great ability to move and extend plays within and outside of the pocket as he threw for 48 yards. Colin Leger also showed his athleticism and extended plays with his legs while also leading the game with 61 yards passing.

Andy Bryson’s number one pick in Center High School (Center, TX) RB Kaden Dixon was bottled up throughout the night as he only ran for 18 yards, but helped Team West convert a pivotal fourth down as he set that play call up with a nine-yard run on the play before. Coach Bennett and offensive coordinator Chris Towery relied on the ground attack as Jacobi Jefferson, Ja’Vain Reese, and Deandra Young all had big runs to move the chains during the game.

When Team West had success throwing the ball, Breaux Bridge High School (Breaux Bridge, LA) WR Kelby Hypolite, Walker High School (Walker, LA) WR Jamari Evans, McKinley High School (Baton Rouge, LA) WR Chance Griffin, and Port Allen High School (Port Allen, LA) WR Jarius Wright all had big catches in the game.

Finally, because of the defenses controlling the game, both punters showcased their legs throughout the game as Heights High School (Houston, TX) P Shawn Haenicke-Prevost and University Lab High School (Baton Rouge, LA) WR/P Granville Anderson II combined for 11 punts with both averaging 31 yards per attempt.

The fifth annual Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game proved to be another great game that went down to the wire featuring many talented players plus a fantastic atmosphere that was generated by the Liberty High School marching band. Because of that, the crowd was entertained from start to finish.

There couldn’t have been a better way to end a fantastic week of football, and all of the Gridiron Football staff is looking forward to an even more exciting year in 2024 for the sixth annual Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game!

Check out the highlights of the fifth annual Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game!

Social Media Highlights:

West Roster:

NumberNamePositionSchoolCityState
0Kaden DixonRBCenter High SchoolCenterTX
1Jaylin HarrisLBEscambia High SchoolPensacolaFL
2Jacobi Jefferson RBSalmen High SchoolSlidellLA
3Jarius WrightWRPort Allen High SchoolPort AllenLA
4Tadarius WrightDBEscambia High SchoolPensacolaFL
5Colin LegerQBComeaux High SchoolLafayetteLA
6Anthony HallQBEscambia High SchoolPensacolaFL
7Dequincy WilsonDBBarton High SchoolBartonAR
8CJ WhiteDEFoster High SchoolRichmondTX
9Hutch GraceLBCalvary Baptist AcademyShreveportLA
10Ryan McVayDLEscambia High SchoolPensacolaFL
11Amyrion MingoWRAlexandria High SchoolAlexandriaLA
12Jalil MatthewsDBTerrebonne High SchoolHoumaLA
13Nasir HudsonDEWarren Easton High SchoolNew OrleansLA
14Jamari EvansWRWalker High SchoolWalkerLA
15John Michael SampognaroQB/WRNeville High SchoolMonroeLA
16Tre’von BellDBPaxton High School JacksonvilleFL
17Ty WilliamsDBVermilion Catholic High SchoolAbbevilleLA
20Deandra YoungRBDelhi Charter High SchoolDelhiLA
21Vincent ButcherDBNeville High SchoolMonroeLA
22Kelby HypoliteWRBreaux Bridge High SchoolBreaux BridgeLA
23Christian SmithRBAmite High SchoolAmiteLA
24Decareyn SampsonRB/WRAvoyelles High SchoolAvoyellesLA
25Tyler KnightenDEScotlandville Magnet High SchoolBaton RougeLA
26Grant DenicolaLSDutchtown High SchoolGeismarLA
27Karl’Mareon BatisteTEPeabody Magnet High SchoolAlexandriaLA
28Jayden Gurzi MacDonaldRB/WRBlessed Trinity High SchoolGrimsby, OntarioCAN
29Michi BeanRBIndependence High SchoolIndependenceLA
31Jarius StephenDBSophie B. Wright High SchoolNew OrleansLA
32Coddie Noel Jr.DBBreaux Bridge High SchoolBreaux BridgeLA
33Lawrence RiversLBChiefland High SchoolChieflandFL
34Zeke CarwileLBWestminster Christian AcademyHuntsvilleAL
34 Rykeelin VanzantLBMansfield High SchoolMansfieldLA
40Hodges BrownDBComeaux High SchoolLafayette LA
44Ja’Vain ReeseRBNorthwest High SchoolOpelousasLA
45Alex SimonDBComeaux High SchoolLafayetteLA
47Owen LockLB Huron Heights High SchoolNewmarket, OntarioCAN
50Adam WigginsOLEast Ascension High SchoolGonzalesLA
51Lacardias BoatwrightLBIndependence High SchoolIndependenceLA
52Kaden ChandlerLBGrant High SchoolDry ProngLA
54Alton RisinOLLivingston CollegiateNew OrleansLA
55Joe MiltonOLOpelousas High SchoolOpelousasLA
56Jordan PhilsonDLNorth Iberville High SchoolMaringouinLA
57Travis CedotalOLAscension CatholicDonaldsonvilleLA
63Brenn RayOLWestminster Christian AcademyOpelousasLA
74Vasser DayOLSt. Frederick High SchoolMonroeLA
75Jake StevensOLCaruthersville High SchoolCaruthersvilleMO
80Chance GriffinWRMcKinley High SchoolBaton RougeLA
84Wyatt GibbensWRSouthside High SchoolYoungsvilleLA
86Shawn Haenicke-PrevostK/PHeights High SchoolHoustonTX
88Jayden SonnierWRComeaux High SchoolLafayetteLA
90Travail HamiltonDLSouthwood High SchoolShreveportLA
91Seyvion MosesDLDelhi Charter High SchoolDelhiLA
99Braylon DusangDLHoly Savior MenardAlexandriaLA

East Roster:

NumberNamePositionSchoolCityState
0Isaiah GrantLBIsidore Newman High SchoolNew OrleansLA
1Ja’Corian NorrisDBTioga High SchoolBallLA
2Granville Anderson IIWR/PUniversity LabBaton RougeLA
3Ray LeviWRLake ArthurLake ArthurLA
4Braeden GeorgeRBEpiscopal High SchoolBaton RougeLA
5Dartavian DepassWRPeabody Magnet High SchoolAlexandriaLA
6Diego SpearsDTDutchtown High SchoolGeismarLA
7Jalen AndersonDESlidell High SchoolSlidellLA
8Omar ButlerWRCrowley High SchoolCrowleyLA
9Chris CooperLBWoodlawn High SchoolBaton RougeLA
10Peyton McFarlandLBMcDonogh 35 High SchoolNew OrleansLA
11Zerrick JonesRBJena High SchoolJenaLA
12James OwensRBPine High SchoolFranklintonLA
13Douglas ThorntonRB/WRSouthern Lab High SchoolBaton RougeLA
14Samuel TullosQBAcadiana Christian High SchoolLafayetteLA
15Juvari SingletonRBDelta Charter High SchoolFerridayLA
16Beau PerezQBJesuit High SchoolNew OrleansLA
17Dwayne MillsDBSlidell High SchoolSlidellLA
18Deekota JohnsonWROakdale High SchoolOakdaleLA
19Kaden TaylorLBGrand Lake High SchoolLake CharlesLA
20Donte BotleyDBKinder High SchoolKinderLA
21Hayden JohnsonTENotre Dame High SchoolCrowleyLA
22Mackenzie ArdoinDENorthwest High SchoolOpelousasLA
23Mason WarrenDBParkview Baptist High SchoolBaton RougeLA
24Travis PradiaDBBarbe High SchoolLake CharlesLA
25Kamron WilsonLBAirline High SchoolBossier CityLA
27Cedric AllenDBPeabody Magnet High SchoolAlexandriaLA
17Maximus KadrmasDBTioga High SchoolBallLA
31Eric VoriesDBPeabody Magnet High SchoolAlexandriaLA
32Colin CoatesDBCatholic High SchoolBaton RougeLA
33Otis Bates Jr.RBDelta Charter High SchoolFerridayLA
34Gabryel LeslieLBRosepine High SchoolRosepineLA
35Landyn LawrenceLBRosepine High SchoolRosepineLA
44Demirrious JonesDLJonesboro Hodge High SchoolJonesboroLA
48Corey Ledet Jr.DLSouthside High SchoolYoungsvilleLA
50Jackson CordillK/PFranklin Parish High SchoolWinnsboroLA
54Zyrian TaylorDLPeabody Magnet High SchoolAlexandriaLA
55Shaunterrius ConnerOLFerriday High SchoolFerridayLA
56Cedric MayOLWoodlawn High SchoolBaton RougeLA
58Maurice Smith Jr.OLFerriday High SchoolFerridayLA
59Riggs KnightOLSlidell High SchoolSlidellLA
62Blaine SavoieOLRosepine High SchoolRosepineLA
66Logan HughesOL/DLMadison High SchoolTallulahLA
74Demerion DupasDLMarksville High SchoolMarksvilleLA
75Kaine OlivierDLLoreauville High SchoolLoreauvilleLA
77Chase CangelosiOLDutchtown High SchoolGeismarLA
79Mitch HodnettOLSterlington High SchoolMonroeLA
80DaMarious BurnsWRJonesboro Hodge High SchoolJonesboroLA
81Lance RumbelowWRKenner Discovery MetairieLA
84Josh LoydWRTioga High SchoolBallLA
85Brandon ScottWRSarah T. Reed High SchoolNew OrleansLA
88Izaiah FarleyWRLeesville High SchoolLeesvilleLA
97Blair RousseauDLCatholic High SchoolBaton RougeLA

Team West Stats:

Passing:

#PLAYERC-AYDSTDIC%
5Colin Leger4-10610040%
6Anthony Hall4-9480144.4%
15John Michael Sampognaro1-260050%
3 Passers9-211150142.8%

Rushing:

#PLAYERATTYDSTDAVG
15John Michael Sampognaro102412.4
2Jacobi Jefferson223011.5
0Kaden Dixon51803.6
5Colin Leger51803.6
44Ja’Vain Reese31414.7
20Deandra Young112012.0
23Christian Smith31003.33
22Kelby Hypolite110010.0
88Jayden Sonnier1707.0
34Rykeelin Vanzant1101.0
29Jayden Gurzi MacDonald1-10-1.0
80Chance Griffin1-10-1.0
12 RUSHERS3413523.97

Receiving:

#PLAYERNOYDSTDAVG
3Jarius Wright237018.5
22Kelby Hypolite230015.0
14Jamari Evans119019.0
80Chance Griffin21608.0
88Jayden Sonnier1808.0
11Amyrion Mingo1505.0
6 RECEIVERS9115012.77

Defense:

#Player (Starter)TotTkSackTFLsIntBrUpQBHFFFR
34Zeke Carwile60100011
52Kaden Chandler40000000
25Tyler Knighten3.51.5100000
9Hutch Grace3.51000000
10Ryan McVay31100010
4Tadarius Wright2.50010000
8CJ White21000000
13Nasir Hudson20.5000200
16Tre’von Bell20010000
47Owen Lock20000000
90Travail Hamilton1.50.5000000
21Vincent Butcher1.50000000
17Ty Williams1.50000000
32Coddie Noel Jr.1.50000000
31Jarius Stephen10000000
12Jalil Matthews10000000
51Lacardias Boatwright0.50000000
91Seyvion Moses0.50000000
20Deandra Young0.50000000
56Jordan Philson0.50000000
33Lawrence Rivers0.50000000
TOTALS415.5320221

Kicking/Punting:

Kicker/PunterNO. PuntsYDSAVGFG/FGAXP/XPA
Shawn Haenicke-Prevost412631.50/12/2

Kick Returns/Punt Returns:

ReturnerNOYDSAVGTD
Hodges Brown58016.00
Jamari Evans22010.00

Team East Stats:

Passing:

#PLAYERC-AYDSTDIC%
16Beau Perez7-19240236.8%
14Samuel Tullos2-4-10050%
2 Passers9-23230239.1%

Rushing:

#PLAYERATTYDSTDAVG
4Braeden George128417.0
16Beau Perez223011.5
12James Owens2804.0
15Juvari Singleton1707.0
14Samuel Tullos1303.0
33Otis Bates Jr.1202.0
13Douglas Thornton1202.0
7 RUSHERS2012916.45

Receiving:

#PLAYERNOYDSTDAVG
84Josh Loyd3702.33
13Douglas Thornton2201.0
18Deekota Johnson111011.0
2Granville Anderson II1505.0
12James Owens1-10-1.0
8Omar Butler1-10-1.0
6 RECEIVERS92302.55

Defense:

#Player (Starter)TotTkSackTFLsIntBrUpQBHFFFR
35Landyn Lawrence6.51000000
48Corey Ledet Jr.50100100
6Diego Spears4.51.5200000
7Jalen Anderson42000200
1Ja’Corian Norris40001000
74Demerion Dupas3.51000000
20Donte Botley30000001
34Gabryel Leslie30000000
22Mackenzie Ardoin30000000
31Eric Vories2.50000000
25Kamron Wilson2.50000000
0Isaiah Grant21000000
75Kaine Olivier1.50.5000000
23Mason Warren1.50010000
44Demirrious Jones1.50000000
10Peyton McFarland10000000
27Cedric Allen10000000
17Dwayne Mills10000000
19Kaden Taylor0.50000000
24Travis Pradia0.50000000
97Blair Rousseau00000101
TOTALS527310402

Kicking/Punting:

Kicker/PunterNO. PuntsYDSAVGFG/FGAXP/XPA
Granville Anderson II722031.40/00/0
Jackson Cordill000.00/01/1

Kick Returns/Punt Returns:

ReturnerNOYDSAVGTD
Zerrick Jones35919.70

Special thanks to Cameron Cerniglia for tracking down the stats!

Check out all of the photos that were taken by Billy Metcalf,  Jason Saucier, and Corey Perrillioux!