Some of the WPIAL’s top seniors from the 2016 season were on full display Saturday night at Highmark Stadium in the NFBD All-Star Showcase.
They were joined by players from up and down the East Coast, and not just your run of the mill prospects, but guys committed to top Division 1 programs including future Louisville wide receiver Justin Marshall and Michigan State quarterback Jahmiel Wade.
Even with stiff competition from these out of state recruits, it was a local kid who shined above all others on both sides of the ball, Penn Hill’s Rick Squires.
Squires was named MVP after leading all receivers with 4 catches for 76 yards and 2 touchdowns in Team Never Fear’s 21-14 win over Team Movement. The Buffalo commit clinched the Team Never Fear victory after he picked off Wade late in the 4th quarter. Joined by six of his Penn Hills teammates (Cam Tarrant, Garrison Kemp, Khales Cephas, Derrick Holloway, Tyler Blue and Jeremy Hamilton) on Never Fear, Squires was thrilled to be able to play with his friends one last time.
The game was not only a last time for teammates from Penn Hills and Woodland Hills, but as Squires put it, a way for them to express themselves on the football field and most importantly, have fun.
“I liked how they let us be us and not lock us in,” Squires said. “They just wanted us to have fun and that’s what I liked about it too. It wasn’t like a strict environment like in the high school game.”
Things like a mandatory post touchdown celebration are just some of the ways the NFBD Showcase differs from some of the more tradition high school all-star games in the area. And that is what NFBD stands for, Never Fear Being Different.
Jordon Rooney, one of the founders of NFBD, says the message of his organization is for kids to go out and be their true selves without anyone or anything getting in their way. Rooney hopes to grow the showcase even further next year by securing a corporate in hopes of competing with some of the bigger high school all-star games in the country.
“We want to be the third all-star game around,” Rooney said. “You have the Army All-American game, you have the Under Armor game, but not really any up North. We want to be able to rival and compete with them.”