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The Public League takes the Philadelphia City All-Star Game, 38-30, over the Non-Pub

Written by: on Saturday, May 20th, 2023. Follow Joseph Santoliquito on Twitter.


PHILADELPHIA, PA — There was a lot of handshaking, and fist bumps, and laughing, though between the sidelines, when to came down to hitting, the crunch of the pads was certainly audible enough for everyone to hear a few blocks away on Saturday at Northeast High in Philadelphia.

For the first time since 2017, some of the top seniors from the Philadelphia Public League faced off against some of the top seniors of the Non-Public Schools in the Philadelphia City All-Star game.

The Pub won, 38-30, with Lincoln’s Khani Knight named offensive MVP and Mastery Charter North’s Quintine Wright named defensive MVP for the Public League, while Roman Catholic’s Jamir Robertson was named offensive MVP and Archbishop Wood’s Eric Gardner was named defensive MVP for the Non-Public League All-Stars.

The outcome of the game was not really important, until the final outcome of the game neared. While a lot of fun was being had on the sidelines and on the field, both teams still wanted to win for the sake of pride. It appeared the Public League was in control with a 38-22 entering the fourth quarter, until the Non-Public put a scare into the Pub with a late touchdown and two-point conversion with 3:31 to play.

The Non-Public All-Stars recovered an on-side kick and, suddenly, what was once just friendly game between friends began sharpening into a game the team actually wanted to win.

For many playing, it was their high school football game—and those few more, it was their last time playing high school football.

“I’m probably going to a JUCO, and then from there decide where I’ll play college football, but today was about going out and competing and playing hard,” Knight said. “It will hit you that you just finished playing your high school game, after most of us have playing football since we were little. It’s nice to go with a win.”

That was not so easy for Robertson, who is going to Central Connecticut State and scored two touchdowns and had two two-point conversions in keeping the Non-Public team, which did not have one St. Joseph’s Prep, or Haverford School or Malvern Prep player on the team, close.

“I’m not about individual awards, so this hard work is dedicated to everyone on our team who worked hard, this award is for my teammates,” said Robertson, who is a national level boxer. “I’m definitely going to miss high school ball for sure, coming out, practicing with the guys, playing Friday an Saturday nights, but I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life to begin.

“That comes in August when I report to college, and after that, hopefully the NFL.”

In an interesting twist, two future college teammates, Roman’s Jordan Montgomery and Northeast’s Tyrese Whitaker, were butting heads and having laughs. The two know each other well and they’re both looking forward to their next step together when begin their college football careers at Temple.

For 48 minutes on Saturday, they carried a different objective and that was to beat the other.

Still, it hit them both that Saturday was the last time that they would be playing in a high school football game.

“This was fun, playing against the Pub, and playing with my guys,” said Montgomery, who had two sacks, a forced fumble and two tackles for losses. “Temple knows what it coming in. They’re getting two dogs in myself and Tyrese. We’re going to keep the grind and keep doing what we do.”

Whitaker, a transfer from Wood, wanted to help make a statement for “The Pub.”

“As long as you’re a baller, you can ball out,” said Whitaker, who had two strip sacks, multiple pressures and four tackles of loss. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in the Public League or the Catholic League, at the end of the day, we came out on top and did what we needed to do. I felt I had a great game. I played tight end, but I will play straight up defensive end, and when me and Jordan Montgomery step foot on Temple’s campus, you’re going to hear a lot about us.”

Gardner, Whitaker’s former teammate at Wood, may be embarking on the most interesting journey of all. On July 10, he’ll be reporting to West Point for basic training, preparing to do one year of prep before attending West Point.

“This was actually a lot of fun,” Gardner said. “I had no worries. We didn’t come out with the win, but I enjoyed playing with all of my friends for the last time. I was embracing the moment. It came down to crunch time, and we were trying to make something happen.

“I’m just happy to go out with a bang. I was busting my behind throughout this whole process, and taking everything in before I go up to school.”

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been covering high school football since 1992 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter @JSantoliquito. Follow on Twitter @EPAFootball.

Follow on Twitter @EPAFootball

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One Response to “The Public League takes the Philadelphia City All-Star Game, 38-30, over the Non-Pub”

  1. mcd 65 says:

    They had this game with not a mention beforehand in the Phila . papers. What a disgrace.