2006-07-06 / Sports

Pruitt Stars In H.S. Empire Challenge

By Elio Velez

Bayside's Richie Parker (44) and Jovan Leacock (6) share a laugh.
Bayside's Richie Parker (44) and Jovan Leacock (6) share a laugh. As a football competitor, Far Rockaway High School linebacker Jeremy Pruitt hates to lose. It wasn't a fitting end to his high school career as Long Island escaped with a 20-19 victory over his New York City All-Stars in the Outback Steakhouse High School Football Empire Challenge at Hofstra last Thursday night.

The loss pained Pruitt, especially when Klestor Pellumbi missed wide right on an extra point attempt with 31 seconds left, which would have capped a 14 point comeback for the New York City All Stars. The game may have been a loss but there have been many on the field victories this season for the Far Rockaway native.

His dream of being selected for the "Boomer Bowl", which is another name for the annual all-star game that sponsors former New York Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason's Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, was realized.

"This is a real big thing for city kids to play this game," Pruitt, who finished with three tackles in the game, said. "I really feel good about making this game. During the summer workouts, I kept saying Boomer Bowl in my head, Boomer Bowl!"

Klestor Pellumbi (50) misses a last second extra point
Klestor Pellumbi (50) misses a last second extra point For the Far Rockaway star to reach this game and get attention from college scouts to play at the next level, he needed to improve. What was hard for Pruitt that in order to get shape before the start of his senior year, he needed to improve on his academics.

After the conclusion of the 2004 football season, which he admitted was subpar, Pruitt could not play on the basketball team that winter. Academic ineligibility would be the cause and it would prove to be the wakeup call to save his high school career.

Paying more attention to his studies may have been time consuming but it would turn out be profitable Pruitt admitted. "I'm mature now and I ended up this year with an 81 average," Pruitt said. "It definitely wised me up."

Pruitt would get more chances to be involved on offense and defense and to handle the heavy load, he lost 20 pounds which improved his mobility. At inside linebacker, he made 107 tackles, recorded 18 sacks and brought back two interceptions for touchdowns.

Jeremy Pruitt (7) chases down a Long Island player in the first half. All photos by Borriello Photography. 
Jeremy Pruitt (7) chases down a Long Island player in the first half. All photos by Borriello Photography. He split time at runningback, with Karl Allwood and ran for 711 yards which helped him gain a spot to the PSAL All-City team. The Seahorses would make the playoffs and reach the second round of the PSAL Bowl before losing to Brooklyn Tech.

On June 27, a day before graduation, he received through the mail the result of the SAT's, in which he scored an 1100. The problem for him was that he took the test in February, and due to a mailing mix-up, he could not circulate the results along with his grades to other colleges.

For now, he is committed to attending the perennial junior varsity power Hudson Valley Community College. Joining former teammates James Romain and Chris Howard next season should help Pruitt get adjusted to college football, but he is leaving his options open. "College scouts are talking to me and saying I'm doing well. I know I can do better but I'll go anywhere," Pruitt said. "I just want to get a new experience."

Down 20-6 with five minutes left in the game, New York RB Andre Smith ran to the corner of the end zone with 31 seconds left to make it 20-19. Instead of going for a two point conversion, Pellumbi was brought in and missed his second extra point wide right.Bayside High School's Jovan Leacock and Richie Parker will both attend Hargreave Military Prep Academy, which produced stars such as Dallas Mavericks' Josh Howard.

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