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The stricken former Palm Harbor U. coach will head up the North squad in the Pinellas All-Star Classic.
By CHRIS GIRANDOLA
Published December 6, 2005
LARGO - College coaches wishing to find some talented players who haven't chosen a college will get their chance at the Pinellas All-Star Classic.
The classic will also feature players who have signed, including offensive lineman Jarod Holt, who will attend Duke next year on a full scholarship.
Former Palm Harbor U. coach Mike June (North) and St. Petersburg's Todd St. Louis (South) will coach the game, which kicks off a 7 p.m. Wednesday at Largo High. Both teams started practice last week and had six days of preparation. More than 50 college coaches are expected to attend.
The North will feature running backs Ronnie Harris (Clearwater Central Catholic) and Lyndon Rowells (Seminole) as well as quarterbacks Phil Caralla (East Lake) and Kyle DeArmon (Indian Rocks Christian).
The South will showcase versatile players in Dustin Zitzman (Dixie Hollins), donald Bowens (St. Petersburg), Bernard Scott (Admiral Farragut), as well as quarterbacks Blake Engelhart (Keswick Christian) and Brandon Shorter (Gibbs).
"It's a great opportunity to play against the best and rise up against some pretty top notch competition," said Bowens, who has drawn interest from Florida, Iowa State, Nebraska, and Louisville. "It's a plus because they're all here to see what you have to show and this is your chance to prove you can play."
This year's game will have extra meaning, for coaches, fans and players alike as June returns to the field for the first time since the middle of last season.
June, 43, had returned to coach Palm Harbor last season after being diagnosed with leukemia three years ago. After going through various cancer treatments, June's doctors had thought they had contained the cancer enough to allow June to coach. But in January his doctors discovered the disease rendered his immune system too weak for him to be in school, where the possibility of catching any illness increased tenfold.
Sam Roper, coach at Seminole and one of the originators of the classic, discussed with this year's coach, Bob Hudson (East Lake), having June replace him. Hudson quickly jumped at the idea.
"I was ecstatic, beyond belief," said June, who had to get permission from doctors and his wife, Paula, before going ahead with the plans. "Once I got the okay, then, I went right to work planning with the players and the other coaches."
NOTABLE: Seaver Brown (Countryside), Kevin Young, Riley Cooper, and Colin McCarthy (all of CCC) will not attend, choosing to allow other players to be seen by college coaches. Brown and Young have committed to South Carolina. The four will play in the Florida-California All-Star game Dec.31 in Los Angeles.
Dexter McCluster (Largo) will also sit out. The county's all-time leading rusher will showcase his talent at the Florida North-South All-Star game Dec.23 at The Villages. McCluster has signed with South Florida.