LEXINGTON – Does Juwan Howard have another Classic performance in him?
Madison’s 1,400-yard tailback scored a goal-line touchdown in last month’s big school Ohio All-Star Classic in Dayton. It proved to be the margin of victory for his North squad.
So he might find it hard to top himself in the June 13 North Central Ohio Football Coaches Association All-Star Classic.
“Last time I played on this field, I had 200 yards (rushing),” Howard said Sunday during Media Day at Lexington High School, site of the NCOFCA contest. “It rained that night, and it was rainy and wet at the all-star game, but I don’t mind the elements.”
Howard will suit up this time for the North team and coach Mark Genders, of Plymouth. The South will be coached by Scott Spitler, of Lucas. Despite only a handful of practices, Howard doesn’t think bonding with be a problem.
“When you’re with your all-star team, you build bigger connections than you do during the season because you have to hurry up to know your (all-star) teammates … at least that’s how I feel,” Howard said. “(The state) game was definitely different. It was a bigger atmosphere than a Friday night game.”
Although the Classic rules are tweaked to encourage offense, North wide receiver Cody Stine, of Shelby, doubts either team will score enough to come close to matching the excitement he felt being part of Tiffin Columbian’s 83-82 victory over his Whippets last season.
Stine caught a touchdown pass and three 2-point conversions in the shootout, which tied a state scoring record dating to 1923.
“It’s going to be at the top of the highlights in my high school career,” said Stine, who owns the state’s Division II-III indoor high jump record of 6-10. “That game was just crazy. I still can’t explain what happened.”
Stine’s leaping ability — which helped him average 20 yards per catch for Shelby — attracted a lot of attention from college football coaches. But he opted to do track for the University of Akron.
“Quite a few schools wanted me to do both,” Stine said, “but I just felt that it would be too hard in college with track having both an outdoor and indoor season. Football’s going to be something I miss, but this game gives me the opportunity to play one last time with friends.”
The Classic, set for a 7 p.m. kickoff, is sponsored by McDonald’s, Buckeye Superstore and Richland Bank. Fifteen $1,000 scholarships will be presented at halftime.
Plymouth’s Tyrell Edmiston was The News Journal’s Co-Offensive Player of the Year last fall and was courted by some Division I schools after scoring 24 touchdowns and amassing more than 1,000 yards receiving.
Even though he opted to play basketball for Urbana University, Edmiston didn’t want to miss out on another chance to play football for his coaches and with his quarterback, Hunter Bailey.
“It was a very tough decision,” Edmiston said of choosing to play hoops in college, “but all my friends and family said I should do whatever makes me happy. I felt like basketball made me the happiest.”
Edmiston won two locally staged dunk contests after this past season and might have to get extra creative to do something along those lines in this game.
“Maybe I’ll make a couple of one-handed grabs,” he said, channeling his inner Odell Beckham Jr. “I need to get my football legs back under me.”
South wide receiver Dylan Gulley, of Colonel Crawford, has only one regret when it comes to this Classic: He won’t be paired up again with Edmiston. The point guard and post player made a pretty good tandem in the News Journal All-Star Classic, helping the North to a 94-89 win.
Out wide in this Classic, they would make a devastating tandem with Gulley’s speed — he just helped Colonel Crawford win the Northern 10 track title — complementing Edmiston’s brute force and leaping ability.
“We talk to each other all the time at track meets; he’s always asking if I’m running the 100 because he doesn’t want to run against me,” Gulley said. “He’s a big jokester.”
The Bucyrus pitch-catch combo of quarterback Cole Murtiff and receiver Austin Williams gets one more game together with the North. Murtiff threw for 2,269 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Six of those scoring strikes were to Williams, who finished second in the area with 65 regular season receptions.
“It will be nice being on the same team with guys I played against in the N10 and putting rivalries like we have against schools like Wynford to the side,” said Murtiff, who is headed to Ohio University to study engineering. “I’m definitely going to miss football.”
South all-stars Tristan Bender, Joey Artrip and Blake Cary, of Loudonville, are going from being teammates to Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rivals. Bender is headed to Ashland to play linebacker, Artrip to Ohio Dominican to play tight end, and Cary to Malone to play center.
“There’s a lot of weight room trash talk going on,” Bender said. “We’ve been joking, ‘See you in September.’ “
Cary, like Bender a first-team All-Ohioan, will be joining his brother Austin at Malone. It should make for some interesting practice battles. The older Cary made honorable mention All-GLIAC this past fall as a sophomore defensive lineman.
“I’ve only been here a few minutes, and it’s already fun seeing all the faces I’ve read about in the paper,” Cary said.
Artrip made All-Ohio as a defensive end, ranking second in the area with 10 regular season sacks. But he opened eyes in the postseason with his size and pass-catching ability. He and Bender both played for the victorious North in the small school state all-star game.
“Once you get to this level, everybody knows what they’re doing, and you don’t have to coach them up too much,” Artrip said. “Everybody’s just out there having fun.”
Before the North Central Ohio All-Star Football Classic game June 13, a placekicking competition will be held on Minutemen Field at Lexington High School.
It’s open to all current high school students grades nine through 12. Winners will be selected for each grade. Anyone interested in participating should email firstname.lastname@example.org for an entry form.
There is no cost to participate.
ALL-STAR CLASSIC ROSTERS
Matt Davidson, Norwalk; Cody Stine, Shelby; Michael Smith, Tiffin Calvert; Nate Coffman, Crestline; Keaton Teynor, Wynford; Hunter Bailey, Plymouth; Cole Murtiff, Bucyrus; Austin Williams, Bucyrus; Connor Black, Mapleton; Travis Pickering, Mapleton; Donavon Stith, Tiffin Calvert; Austin Shutler, Wynford; Juwan Howard, Madison; Cole Hollis, Bucyrus; Ross Martin, Buckeye Central; Jared Cook, Norwalk; Chance Butcher, Plymouth; Corey Kowatch, Mapleton; Colton Harvey, Shelby; Justin Campbell, Bucyrus; Kaleb Alspach, Wynford; Doral Dagher, Bucyrus; Nate McIntosh, New London; Zack Koenig, Mapleton; Alex Hill, Madison; Matt Iannantuono, Tiffin Calvert; Cameron Felter, Tiffin Calvert; Zachary Heald, Norwalk; Hunter Powers, Madison; Levi Spence, Bucyrus; Justin Klupp, Madison; Cyle Skidmore, Wynford; Logan Cox, Ashland; Elliot Rhodes, Norwalk; Kyle Rospert, Norwalk St. Paul; Trevor Arnold, Plymouth; Jordan Herrnstein, Buckeye Central; Dale Kaple, Hillsdale; Tyrell Edmiston, Plymouth; Zach Hendrickson, Wynford
Head coach: Mark Genders, Plymouth
Ryan Maniaci, Marion Pleasant; Jacob Carney, South Central; Justin Jacobs, East Knox; Dylan Gulley, Colonel Crawford; Devonte Jacocks, Mansfield Senior; Tristan Bender, Loudonville; Asante Wilder, Mansfield Senior; Matthew Giffin, Fredericktown; Jermaine Burket, Galion; Austin Morehouse, Danville; Matthew McDaniel, East Knox; Caden Lawrence, Marion Pleasant; Joseph Elson, Mount Gilead; Anton Franklin, Mansfield Senior; Ricky Minor, Mansfield Senior; Logan Spohn, Lucas; Michael Jenny, South Central; Arby Thompson, Galion; Lane Foster, Northmor; Kyle Galyk, Marion Pleasant; Ryan Cooper, Lexington; Colton Lybarger, Fredericktown; Cole Kiser, Mansfield Senior; Jonathan Brazell, Marion Harding; Kalen Knight, East Knox; Jacob Brown, Highland; Blake Cary, Loudonville; Nicholas Rupp, Ontario; Skyler Rose, Colonel Crawford;; Bronson Krull, Ontario; Caleb Snyder, Fredericktown; Lucas Earhart, Northmor; Tyler Picou, Colonel Crawford; Austin Yeater, Northmor; Dalton Dennison, Lucas; Jason Zeides, Lexington; Dustin Baker, Highland; Ethan Shultz, Danville; Joey Artrip, Loudonville
Head coach: Scott Spitler, Loudonville