INDIANAPOLIS – Blake Elming will tell you Nick Cox is very much responsible for his record-breaking senior season as McCutcheon’s running back.
Elming’s 2,289 rushing yards, 9.4 yards per carry and 28 touchdowns essentially made him a lock to be selected to the North/South all-star football game.
If Cox wasn’t blocking for him Friday night at North Central, well, that just wouldn’t be right.
The call came to McCutcheon track coach Scott Muncy during a practice over the spring and shortly after Cox received the news that he’d get one last chance to pave the way for the Mavericks’ all-time leading rusher.
Cox also helped pave the way for the North’s first win in the series since 2010 with a 20-7 victory.
“Our line coaches really liked him from the get-go. He’s a big solid kid and really gets off the line well,” said North head coach Chris Meeks, of Rensselaer. “At 290 or 295 pounds, it gives us a big lineman to move the South around a little bit.”
Elming, headed to DePauw, finished with 12 yards but showed his speed and grittiness that earned him the starting nod in the backfield. St. Francis-bound Cox plowed over South defensive linemen in a game that was delayed by three hours, then played with a running clock and no halftime.
“Its an honor to be here in the first place and to have a McCutcheon O-lineman here as well,” Elming said. “I am glad one of our O-linemen made it so they got some recognition as well.”
Rensselaer safety Ab Kiger recovered a fumble on the game’s second play that set up Jerrell Poindexter’s 34-yard touchdown reception from Jake Paliga. Kiger later intercepted a pass by Bloomington South’s Bryce Stancombe.
Kiger’s Rensselaer classmate Austin Fleming, true to form from his dominating high school season, brought down a runner in the backfield among his three tackles.
Carroll’s Jarin Bush was among the most impressive players.
Transitioned to a defensive tackle, a position he’d never played before, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound representative for the Cougars made his impact felt immediately by stuffing a run up the middle on the game’s first play, helping end his high school athletic career as a winner.
“I wasn’t fortunate enough to win a sectional or a conference, but being here kind of validates myself,” said Bush, who felt Carroll teammate Brandon Dillon also deserved an all-star nod. “The coaches voted me on here. This is my state championship.”
The Lafayette area, Meeks said, was well represented and each showed during the week why they were selected in what was a grueling process to choose the right North roster.
The North staff locked themselves in an Indianapolis hotel for two days in March, milling through film and reaching out to coaches to make sure they were finding high-character kids who also had extraordinary football talents.
Over a week of camp at the University of Indianapolis, the team came together. Kiger, Fleming, Meeks and linebackers coach Eric Nowlin added the all-star notch to their belt after a Class 2A state title in November.
Concord’s Jerrell Poindexter earned the game’s most valuable player award for his 34-yard touchdown reception following Kiger’s early fumble recovery and for a 36-yard punt return that set up the game’s final touchdown.
“I did this (coached in the North/South game) in 2005 and I saw it firsthand, but being a head coach and selecting these kids to come in, it’s a melting pot,” Meeks said. “You’ve got big schools, small schools, urban schools and country schools. We could just see everything falling into place with team chemistry.”