With wide receiver and University of Wisconsin-recruit Rob Wheelwright as his primary target, quarterback Marquez Toney helped the Walnut Ridge High School football team average more than 34 points last season while going 7-3 and missing the Division II, Region 7 playoffs by one spot.
Once he got in sync with receivers such as Marion-Franklin's Joe Alverson, Mifflin's Kamaron Green and Independence's Vincent Rambo and Dominic Ward during the Cap City Senior Bowl on June 15 at Reynoldsburg, Toney showed that his success last fall wasn't a fluke.
Toney's first three passes were incomplete, but he finished 10-for-18 for 216 yards and two touchdowns, hooking up with Green on a 50-yard score and connecting with Ward for a 16-yard score. His performance led the East to a 43-22 win and helped him earn Offensive Most Valuable Player honors.
"I had a great time," said Toney, who plans to attend a junior college in Massachusetts. "The offense was easy to learn. We had a lot of athletes out there, which made it a lot easier."
The East beat the West in the Senior Bowl for the fourth consecutive season. The South beat the North in the first two Senior Bowls, which were held in 2008 and '09, respectively.
Africentric defensive back Trevon Saunders, who will play for Urbana University, had two interceptions, including one that he returned for a 69-yard touchdown. He was named Defensive MVP for the East.
There were four players on the East team from host Reynoldsburg in Tyree Tate (WR), Dionta Brown (RB/DB), Daquian Williams (LB) and Paris Houston (OL).
Brown, who will play for West Virginia State, rushed for 36 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown, and had an 18-yard run that ended with him knocking Brookhaven's Michael Fair to the ground. Fair didn't move for a couple of minutes but walked off the field with help.
"I didn't mean to (hurt Fair). It was just adrenaline," Brown said. "It was (a fun game). It was my last home game at Reynoldsburg on this field."
Brown opened the scoring with his touchdown run, giving the East a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes, 34 seconds left in the second quarter.
The West cut it to 7-6 when Westland quarterback Jalen Brown hit Brookhaven wide receiver Clevis Towns for a 78-yard touchdown pass with 9:56 remaining in the second quarter.
Toney's touchdown pass to Green made it 14-6 with 5:14 left in the second quarter, but the game was tied at 14 at halftime after Jalen Brown scored on a 25-yard touchdown run and connected with Central Crossing running back Tory Clark for the two-point conversion.
The East outscored the West 21-0 in the third quarter to take control of the contest.
Toney's touchdown pass to Ward with 7:36 left in the quarter made it 21-14 and Marion-Franklin's Joe Alverson returned a punt 45 yards for a touchdown with 5:01 left to make it 28-14 before Saunders' interception return for a score with 3:16 left stretched the East's advantage to 35-14.
The East's final score came with 9:16 left in the fourth quarter when Mifflin quarterback JaVonte Bing connected with Rambo for a 3-yard touchdown pass and Ward ran for the two-point conversion.
The West closed out the scoring with 2:42 remaining when Jalen Brown threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Brookhaven wide receiver Lei'Tonn Backus and Brown ran for the two-point conversion.
Alverson, who also will play for Urbana, had four catches for 72 yards.
"Honestly, it was great," said East coach Geary Godfrey, who is an assistant coach at Independence. "We had a lot of open-space athletes and we did a good job of coming together in a short period of time."
Eastmoor Academy defensive back Daivon Barrow had an interception and Walnut Ridge's Nick Butler recovered two fumbles on punts for the East defense.
Jalen Brown was named the West's Offensive MVP, completing 11 of 21 passes for 240 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions and scoring a touchdown. He finished with minus-13 yards rushing after being tackled for losses six times.
"It was fun," Jalen Brown said. "I got to play with a lot of people who I didn't get to play with in the regular season. I'll be going to Urbana (this) year, and I know a couple of guys who actually will be going to Urbana."
Towns had two receptions for 108 yards and Brookhaven wide receiver Kevin Greenhow and Whetstone wide receiver Yusef Conteh each had two catches.
Clark, who also plays defensive back, was named Defensive MVP for the West, which was headed by the Whetstone coaching staff.
"That Clark kid is the real deal," Whetstone coach Don Poff said. "He played really well. We had some Brookhaven kids do real well. They were all very special and every single kid played at least a few plays."