Hagerstown’s Kain Grose looked to his side and saw the odd sight of a Lincoln helmet lining up beside him.
What wasn’t an odd sight was the performance Friday night by some of Wayne County’s top football players.
Grose recovered a fumble that set up a touchdown. Lincoln’s Grant Renforth connected on a 10-yard scoring strike late in the fourth quarter.
And Ben Parrish? The Richmond graduate provided some of the evening’s most memorable plays in this year’s edition of the annual East-West Football Classic at Anderson High School.
The West won a nail-biter, making sure a touchdown in the final minute stood up in a 34-29 victory over the East.
It wasn’t for lack of effort on the East’s part. Renforth found New Castle’s Ben Thompson for a 10-yard scoring strike, and Parrish soon followed with a 2-point conversion run to give the East its first — and only — lead of the game, 29-28 with 2:45 remaining.
The 2-point conversion wasn’t Parrish’s lone highlight. The Red Devil running back scampered 54 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown as he avoided tacklers on his way across the Anderson gridiron.
“It was great. This time it was for the city of Richmond,” said Parrish, who was joined on the East roster by Richmond teammates Justyn Curtis and Jimmy Bailey. “My last game, my last time suiting up with my teammates, I just went out there and had fun.
“This whole week has just been a great experience.”
Bailey nearly snagged an interception in the first half, and Curtis gave the East a chance with time running out after the West surged back ahead with a 51-yard touchdown pass by Huntington North’s Drew Schnitz with 54.9 seconds left on the clock.
Curtis connected on a 10-yard pass and scrambled for a total of 13 yards on the final drive, but the West defense held steady to claim the victory.
Curtis passed for 41 yards and rushed for another 25, while Parrish finished with a team-high 75 yards rushing. That final tally included an 18-yard gain by Parrish on a broken play after a fumbled snap in the first half.
Renforth finished with a team-high 57 yards passing. He was playing one more time for his father, Phil Renforth, who was head coach of the East team.
“It means a lot that he was able to coach the game,” Grant Renforth said. “I was able to play quarterback for him for a couple of years, and I was able to play quarterback for him in the East-West game — it was a real honor.
” … Not every kid gets to do it. I remember being here when my dad was an assistant coach, sitting on the sidelines watching the game. I told myself I wanted to be playing in the game one day.”
Schnitz snatched victory from the East with his 51-yard TD pass to Joshua Sears. Schnitz finished with 127 yards passing, while James Davis of Western passed the century mark on the ground with a game-high 131 rushing yards for the West.
The West led 21-14 at halftime, and held its greatest lead at two touchdowns, 28-14, after a 7-yard scoring run by Anderson’s Tim Boyd with 1:07 left in the third quarter.
“It was fun. What more could you want? We scored in the last two or three minutes, and we went for 2 to win the game, and they hit a big play to win the game,” Phil Renforth said. “For the fans, it had to be exciting to watch. It’s kind of nerve-wracking as a coach.
“They (the West) did a great job of moving the ball down the field. They got a penalty here and there, and moved the ball a little bit. They put themselves in a position to win the game, too.”
Union City’s James Antonoglou hauled in a 34-yard touchdown pass from Muncie South’s Timber Hatfield late in the second quarter for the East.
That score was set up by Grose’s fumble recovery at the West’s 39-yard line.
“It was a great experience,” Grose said. “This is an all-star game, and you get to come out here and play with a bunch of great young men and great athletes.”
Count a few more Tigers among that number, including Steven Glover and Coty Bailey.
The East roster also featured Winchester’s Drew Croyle, Union City’s Brandon Journay and Duran Bocanegra, Centerville’s Luke Shaw and Lincoln’s Tyler Brown, Caleb Ketring and Clayton Harmeyer.
“It was awesome, just meeting all the other good players from other schools that you heard about all season,” Glover said. “Just playing with them was pretty fun, and building a friendship with them.
” … I think everybody’s skills came out.”
Added coach Renforth: “We did a lot of good things. I thought the Wayne County kids did a great job. … I think all the Lincoln kids played well. All the TEC kids, and the Richmond kids — Wayne County showed up good tonight.”