Sean Conway 1, Ryan Teglovic 0.
The early advantage in the Buckeye Superstore/McDonald’s All-Star Football Classic goes to the North thanks to some motivational words by its head coach during Friday night’s recognition banquet at Der Dutchman Restaurant.
Conway, whose history with Teglovic goes back to their days as rivals in the Firelands Conference, took delight in pointing out to the audience that his all-star counterpart is a “horrible” trash talker.
“I’ve seen your team and my team,” Teglovic supposedly told Conway. “I’ve decided we’re not going to run up the score on you.”
It doesn’t matter if Conway’s story was fiction, as long as his all-stars believe the conversation actually happened.
Teglovic was mad, but only because he didn’t beat Conway to the punch.
“The only thing I’ll say about Sean is that he stole my pregame speech,” Teglovic said, looking ahead to Saturday’s 7 p.m. kickoff at Lexington High School. “I was going to tell my players the same thing about him at around 6:30. I guess I’ll have to come up with something else.”
The best news to come out of Friday’s banquet is that both coaches could find their teams down two touchdowns and be far from out of it.
Thanks to a twist in the rules, if a team trailing by 14 points scores, it has the option of receiving the ensuing kickoff as well.
Each team can take advantage of that opportunity only once in the game.
There have long been other rule twists to promote scoring in this rite of summer, like limiting the defense to man coverage, with no blitzing or stunting, but it was the “14-point deficit” rule that sent a murmur through the room.
The rule was actually in effect last year but did not come into play as the North rallied from a 10-0 deficit for a 21-10 victory. The rule also didn’t become public knowledge last year because referee Kim Sentieri didn’t get the same chance to address the banquet attendees about rule changes like he did Friday night.
Conway, who led Madison to the playoffs and a 10-2 record last season, found out about the rule for the first time at the banquet because he missed the meeting with the rules committee.
“I guess we’ll make it a game decision like anything else,” he said when asked if he would elect to “receive” as soon as he had the chance, rather than hold on to it like a timeout. “Hopefully we won’t have that situation present itself to us.”
For momentum’s sake, Teglovic, who led Colonel Crawford to its first playoff berth last season, sees no reason why you would save the “keep the ball” option.
“I would think you’d use it as quickly as you could to catch up,” he said. “I hope it’s close and we don’t have to worry about it.”
It was a different rule change that caught the attention of guest speaker Bill Conley, the head coach at Ohio Dominican and former player, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Ohio State.
“How many linebackers do we have here?” Conley asked as he stepped to the podium. “I was just talking to Kim (Sentieri) about the no-blitzing rule. Remember (linebackers), there’s nothing wrong with reading the play fast!”
Conley felt right at home in Friday’s setting, surrounded by close to 100 all-star players and coaches. He’s been part of two high school all-star games, including the Under Armour All-America Game. This past April, he led the Ohio college all-stars to a 10-7 victory over their Michigan counterparts in Canton.
“It’s always good,” Conley crowed, “to beat Michigan.”
The camaraderie that develops during all-star week is something Conley has seen carry well beyond four quarters.
“You’re playing with (rivals) you thought were rotten guys,” he said. “You find out some of them become true friends for life. I told my guys at Ohio Dominican, you know you’ve made it over the hump when you care so much about the guy next to you, you don’t want to let them down.”
This is Conway’s second time coaching the North in the Classic. He was also in charge in 2007 when he was at Crestview.
“There are two reasons I’m doing this,” he said. “One, it’s a great honor and, two, I get the opportunity to coach my boys from Madison (eight of them) one more time. I spent the last three years with them and they’re a big part of my heart. Hopefully, we won’t be strangers ever again.
“That’s why I agreed to coach in this game, but then I started coaching (at practice) and got to meet the other kids. What a fine group of young men. Everybody’s been in it for the team. It’s been a perfect week.”