- Jon Mahoney, ESPNHS.com
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Just two weeks ago, the Seminole (Sanford, Fla.) football team was rallying from a 21-point deficit to shock Northwestern (Miami) with a 28-21 victory in the Class 6A state finals here at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
On Sunday night, Seminole seniors Ray Ray Armstrong, Andre Debose and Dyron Dye returned to the same location to play for the Black Team in the second annual Under Armour All-America High School Football Game, which the White Team won, 27-16.
All three are ranked in the ESPNU 150. Armstrong, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound safety, is rated No. 18 overall; Debose, a 6-foot, 180-pound wide receiver, is No. 30; and Dye, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound defensive end, is No. 143.
While there were a lot more fans watching the tantalizingly talented trio this time around with the game being nationally televised on ESPN, there was definitely a considerable local feel inside the Florida Citrus Bowl, with an entire cheering section composed of Seminole fans.
One of those fans was Dye's mother, Bridget Nelson, who wore a T-shirt with her son's photo on the front and his name and number on the back. Nelson wasn't surprised by the amount of support for the three friends.
"They are some good boys, so everybody follows them wherever they go," she said.
Nevertheless, it touched the three.
"It surprised me how many people showed up," said Armstrong. "This whole year there's been a lot of people coming out and supporting us and they came out to support the big three of Seminole High School of Sanford, Florida. I really liked that. It meant a lot just knowing that there are a lot of people who want to support us and are with us every step of the way."
Back in the state championship, Armstrong, Debose and Dye gave their community something to cheer about in leading their school to its first state crown. Debose scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Armstrong with 33 seconds left, and Dye contributed the game-ending sack.
The trio continued to make big plays in the Under Armour All-America Game highlighted by Debose's 92-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. Debose snuck behind Branden Smith to catch the pass from Russell Shepard and beat Stephon Gilmore in a footrace to the corner of the end zone with the Seminole section seemingly pushing him toward paydirt with their roar from the stands.
Armstrong, Dye and Debose all made their college commitments during the game, fittingly among their throngs of fans in the Seminole cheering section. Armstrong and Dye chose Miami in the first half, while Debose pledged to Florida in the fourth quarter, eschewing the chance to play with his friends in college.
Regardless of where the three end up, the Seminole fans will follow.
"We've got a lot of fan support," said Debose. "They'd follow us to Jupiter if we could go there."
Jon Mahoney covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com.
1dMarc Stein and Ramona Shelburne