PHOENIX (Jan. 6, 2012) - After a year of preparation and
anticipation, the inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl
Week, which ran from Dec. 29, 2011, to Jan. 3, 2012,
represented a successful foray into the high school football
world for the Marine Corps and Junior Rank.
Waconia High School punter/tight end Maxx Williams punts the ball during the inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, Jan. 3, 2012.
Photo by USMC Lance Cpl. David Flynn
Shaon Berry, a youth football coach and former University of
Pittsburgh running back founded Junior Rank in 2008. The
goal of the program is to develop the next generation of
student athletes through education, evaluation and
The Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl,
an East-West format game, was the culmination of Junior
Rank's yearlong partnership with Marine Corps Recruiting
"We believe this is an opportunity to really
impact America and return better citizens in the form of
student-athletes," said Berry, CEO, Junior Rank. "We were
excited to partner with the Marines because they represent
everything we want our student athletes to be."
Throughout 2011, Junior Rank and MCRC partnered for 21
Diamond Flight football camps and the nationwide Semper
Fidelis All-American Bowl selection tour.
players from middle school age all the way up to high school
seniors attended the Diamond Flight camps. During the camps,
players had the unique opportunity to learn from former NFL
players and some of the best football coaches in the
country. Assisting the coaching staff during the camps were
Marine Corps drill instructors, who instilled discipline and
taught leadership skills to the student-athletes.
"What the [drill instructors] brought to our camps was a
level of intensity that most of these young men hadn't seen
before," said Berry. "Most of these young men have
aspirations to play college football. What we share with
them is the intensity and character displayed by Marines,
which is what they'll need to display in order to achieve
success on and off the field."
According to the
commanding general of MCRC, the partnership between the
Marine Corps and Junior Rank was one based on the shared
values of both organizations.
"The reason we decided
to partner with Junior Rank was because the program is very
concentrated on the character of the student-athletes," said
Brig. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, commanding general, MCRC.
"They share our Marine Corps core values of honor, courage
Unlike other high school
All-American bowls, where the selection criteria is often
limited to performance on the field, student-athletes chosen
to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl were
required to demonstrate outstanding character, leadership
and academic excellence.
participating in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl
arrived in Phoenix Dec. 29, 2011, registering and receiving
their pads and uniforms. For the next four days they
attended practices, a short preparation time for players who
in almost all cases had never played together. The East team
practiced at Arcadia High School in Phoenix while the West
practiced at Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Practicing alongside Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl
players were seventh and eighth Junior Academic
All-Americans. These young student-athletes, like their high
school senior counterparts, were required to display more
than football skill. Players were required to have a 3.0
grade point average and a character recommendation in order
to be invited.
the Marines and the student-athletes in Phoenix brought
Chase Field to life Jan. 2. Starting the day off was the
USMC Proving Ground Combine.
The USMC Proving Ground
Combine was a football skills competition modeled after the
NFL's annual college combine. In the combine were 300 high
school juniors, participating for a competitive assessment
and ranking as well as a chance to play in next year's
Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.
After a week of
practice, two Junior Academic All-American Games were held
following the combine, giving the young student-athletes a
chance to play at the stadium.
The main event was the
nationally-televised Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. The
estimated 4,000 fans in attendance saw a hard fought
defensive battle. Ultimately, the West came away with the
victory, edging out the East 17-14.
bowl week was very successful, exceeding the high
expectations of organizers.
"We've exceeded our own
expectations, based on feedback from parents, coaches and
the people who joined us in Phoenix this week," said Berry.
"My only hope is that the product we put on the field is
representative of the men and women we have serving our
By USMC Lance Cpl. David Flynn
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Fidelis All-American Bowl Week