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A showcase for Sailors

Two Oceanside football players among state's Top 50

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Charlie McKee and Andres Duran took part in the inaugural Prospect NYS Power 50 Showcase, along with 48 other top high school football players from across the state, on Saturday at Utica College.

“To have two players selected for this showcase is obviously good for the growth of our program going forward,” said Rob Blount, who has coached the Sailors for 10 seasons.

The invitation-only showcase brought the top football players together from Long Island, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, and gave them the opportunity to be evaluated by college coaches. The event was also live-streamed by Varsity Media, and DVDs of it will be distributed to college recruiters.

Prospect NYS organized the showcase. The subscription service obtains data from high school coaches and athletes and compiles the information into one database as a way to help college coaches find the top players from all areas and classes across the state.

According to a release from Prospect NYS, New York ranks 18th in the country in producing NFL players. The state has 600 high school football programs and more than 13,000 football players, but yields fewer Division I recruits than many other states. The showcase was organized to try and change that.

McKee, 15, a freshman quarterback, and Duran, 15, a sophomore running back and linebacker, participated in combine drills, individual positional skills and faced off in several one-on-one drills at the event.

“It was a great feeling to be selected, especially as a freshman,” McKee said. “Getting to compete with these guys and seeing how I measure up to them, that’s a great feeling.”

McKee is coming off an outstanding freshman season in which he broke several records, led Oceanside to an 8-3 mark and the county title game in November, when the squad fell to Freeport. In its semifinal match against Farmingdale at Hofstra University on Nov. 10, McKee set county single-game playoff records for completions (30), passing yards (539) and touchdowns (8) as Oceanside ran away with the game, 62-33.

“He had a rock-star freshman year,” Blount said of McKee. “He’s definitely one of the top quarterbacks in the state. He’s one of the top quarterbacks on the Island. At this point, we’re really looking forward to him really being a leader and taking over the team.”

McKee said he started playing football three years ago after his friends convinced him to try out for the Oceanside Middle School team. He initially started as a wide receiver and defensive back, but after one of the defensive coaches saw him throw the ball, he made a position switch and has found success as a signal caller.

McKee attributed his triumphs on the field to his coaches and family. “Coaches always push me because they know I can go 110 percent, and my family members are always by my side,” he said. “If anything goes wrong, they’re always there to help me out with everything.”

Despite being a freshman, McKee was a team leader who exceeded his expectations and has no shortage of confidence, Blount said.

Duran is new to the Sailors after transferring to Oceanside from Lawrence. He said he began playing football when he was 6, and noted that he was honored to be invited to the showcase.

“I was blessed to have the opportunity to play with the top athletes in New York,” Duran said. “I looked forward to competing in front of all of these college coaches and a chance to prove my talent.”

Duran said he was inspired to play football by his older brother, Carlos, 18, who won a county championship with Lawrence in 2017. “I just always followed my brother,” he said. “As soon as I was able to, I signed up.”

McKee and Duran each sent in film and submitted their grade point averages to evaluators at Prospect NYS, and were then invited to the event. Though they have not played together on the field yet, Duran said he has been impressed with McKee and noticed his talents last year when they scrimmaged against each other while he still attended Lawrence. He said having McKee under center was one of the reasons he was excited to join Oceanside.

Blount heaped praise on Duran and said he was thrilled to have him on the team. “It’s exciting to get him to transfer here,” he said. “He’s going to fit in great with the rest of the players that we have here. Defensively, he makes plays and fills an area that is definitely needed coming into the season.”

Blount advised his players to have fun and enjoy the moment at the showcase. He added that he hoped they would return next year. “This was really a learning process for them,” he said. “It was a way to see how they match up with people from across the state.”