The 2016 U.S. Army All-American Bowl was played on Saturday afternoon at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
The nation’s premier high school All-Star game annually features 90 of the top-rated prep gridiron stars in the country as selected by the U.S. Army.
On the roster this year, representing Utah, was a pair of All-Americans who wasted little time contributing to the West’s 37-9 victory over the East.
Capping off the opening drive of the game, Brighton High School wide receiver Simi Fehoko hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Shea Patterson (Ole Miss commit) to take a quick 6-0 lead.
Kicker Skyler Southam of Wasatch High School added the extra point to make it 7-0 and just like that Utah was officially in the books for the storied All-American showcase.
Getting the opportunity to score in the game was certainly memorable for Fehoko and Southam, but just being selected to the team is the experience neither will forget.
“It was just an amazing experience,” said Fehoko. “The whole week, just being around the best players in the country, learning from them and just getting to know them was amazing.”
The Deseret News’ 2015 Mr. Football, is a four-star recruit as per Rivals.com and is committed to play at Stanford. Most of the players in the game had declared long before the All-American Bowl and the Brighton standout was no different.
“I’ve just always loved Stanford,” Fehoko explained. “I went to their camp after my junior year and just loved it. They liked me and we kept in touch. So when the offer came I accepted it. I’m so excited. It’s a dream come true.”
Fehoko caught two passes in the game for a total of 50 yards, including the opening touchdown. The receiver also had the opportunity to play with future Cardinal teammate, QB K.J. Costello.
“That was cool to work with K.J. and some of the other great quarterbacks,” he said. “It gives you a good look into the future in a way — the difference in the throws and the speed of the game.”
Southam, like his fellow Utah teammate, suited up for the contest already committed. The Heber City native chose to remain in state and play for BYU.
Wasatch’ record-setting kicker who ranks third in the nation as a college kicking prospect, called the week in San Antonio one of the best experiences of his life.
“Getting to play with the best in the country is just so cool,” Southam said. “Talking to the guys about where they’re going to school and just hearing the names like Ohio State and Michigan and just knowing you’re amongst these great players is amazing.”
Southam scored five points for the West squad with his leg, going 2 for 4 on PATs and adding a 28-yard field goal at the end of the first half. It was the speed of the game that the future Cougar recalls the most.
“On the extra points, they were just on me so fast,” Southam explained. “You could really feel the pressure they were bringing. The snap and hold had to be perfect or otherwise. That’s what happened on the block.”
The kicker was referring to his third PAT attempt that was blocked and returned for the East’s first score of the game.
That play made the score 19-2 for the West, who were already showing the nation and their future college coaches and fans that they had come to not only play well but win the game.
“I think we felt a little disrespected on the West side,” explained Southam. “It seemed most of the attention was going to the East all week with the media and stuff. Our coaches, I think, took advantage of that and just had us prepared to go out and win.”
And win they did, in convincing fashion, in all three phases of the game. This year that victory was extra sweet for Utah football fans as they got a glimpse of what the future may hold when Fehoko and Southam lace them up for Stanford and BYU respectively in the fall of 2018.
Kenny Bristow is the sports editor and staff sports writer for the Wasatch Wave and contributes to the Deseret News high school coverage for the Wasatch region. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.