Last season ended on a down note for the Dublin Coffman High School football team, as it lost its final three games to finish 7-3 and miss the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

Last season ended on a down note for the Dublin Coffman High School football team, as it lost its final three games to finish 7-3 and miss the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

The disappointment and frustration that the Shamrocks felt at season's end still lingers. But three of the seniors on that team got to experience the thrill of victory one more time at the prep level as members of the OCC team, which defeated the Central Stars 31-6 in the Central Ohio All-Star Football game last Saturday at Upper Arlington.

"Nothing better than going out on a high note," 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive lineman Nick Friedman said. "I mean, missing the playoffs and everything, I just felt like my season ended short. So this was a great experience."

"It feels good coming out and winning, especially because we lost that last game to Upper Arlington by one point," 6-2, 210-pound running back and safety Jared Phillips said, referring to a 7-6 loss to the Golden Bears in the regular-season finale. "Coming out here and putting a whooping on (the Central team) was real fun. It's a good last feeling for high school, finishing on a victory."

Phillips played only on offense for the OCC, rushing for 34 yards on eight carries and catching one pass for 4 yards. Coffman also was represented by kicker T.J. Marchese, who split the kicking duties with Olentangy's Ryan DiSabato, converting both of his extra-point attempts and missing a 49-yard field-goal attempt.

No players from Jerome or Scioto participated in the contest.

"We felt the Central stars were going to come out and give us a good game just because of the history of the game," Friedman said. "All week in practice we practiced for a close game and going out there and keeping things close."

Central leads the series 5-4 since the current format began in 2001.

"It was a real good game," Phillips said. "It basically comes down to whichever team can mesh together the best, and we became a brotherhood within a couple days."

Friedman, who made second-team all-district and honorable mention all-OCC-Central Division last season, will continue his career at the University of Findlay.

"Findlay was 2-9 last year, but they had the No. 1 defense in the (Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), which is arguably the best (Division II) conference," he said. "We have a couple All-Americans, so we should have a great team this year. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to play there.

"They have kind of a senior (laden) defensive line, but the coaches have always said that the best players will play, so my job is to go out there and compete."

Phillips rushed for 575 yards and scored nine touchdowns last season at fullback and made special mention all-district and first-team all-league. He has signed to play for Morehead (Ky.) State, a Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as I-AA) school.

"I'd like to play running back, but I'll play anywhere," Phillips said. "My goal is to get on the travel squad my first year and go around with the team and maybe get in (to a game) a couple times here and there."



Darby's Bargar loses coin flip, wins MVP

Tails never fails.

That was the phrase that Hilliard Darby High School quarterback Brandon Bargar used to fuel his strategy when he guessed at a coin-flip in the days leading up to the Central Ohio All-Star Game last Saturday at Upper Arlington.

Bargar, who led Darby last season with an effective blend of running and passing, was one of two potential starting quarterbacks for the OCC All-Star team, which downed the Central All-Stars 31-6. Either Pickerington Central quarterback Nick Raymond or Bargar could have been the starter for the team, which was comprised solely of players from the Ohio Capital Conference. OCC coach Scott Gordon agreed that a coin-flip should decide the starter.

Bargar called tails and it came up heads.

As the loser of the coin-flip, Bargar started at wide receiver against a Central team made up of players from the CCL, City and MSL leagues.

With the game scoreless in the first quarter, the OCC drew first blood when Raymond threw a lateral to Bargar at receiver. Bargar then launched the ball to Pickerington North tight end Alex Bayer, who was left alone by the defense, for an 80-yard touchdown. The play produced the game's first points with 1 minute, 59 seconds left in the quarter.

"It could have been Nick (throwing that pass)," said Bargar, who also considered returning kicks. "I knew that whoever didn't start was going to get the reverse pass."

Bargar factored heavily in the game plan and was offensive MVP for the OCC. He completed five of eight passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed twice for 12 yards and had a 6-yard catch.

"We had two quarterbacks that were great players," Gordon said. "We said we were going to run that double-pass in the first two series. We had a chance to and (Bayer) was all alone out there."

Raymond also had a productive day. He was 5-for-9 passing for 54 yards and also rushed seven times for 16 yards and punted twice for a 40.5-yard average.

The Central Stars had one quarterback on the roster in Walnut Ridge's Alvin Busbee, although Eastmoor Academy's Alex Coleman also lined up under center. The Central had trouble mounting an aerial attack and finished the first half with 1 yard passing.

Central's main attack was Walnut Ridge running back Brandon Rice, who rushed 16 times for 72 yards to earn his team's offensive MVP.

Central's strategy was to use Rice in the power running game inside and Busbee on speed runs to the outside, but for most of the game the OCC defense was ready for it. Busbee finished with 52 yards rushing, including a 20-yard run in the first quarter, on seven attempts. He also completed six of 10 passes for 19 yards.

"We didn't spread them out much," Busbee said. "They did a good job of spreading us out. We kept it tight most of the time and it made it easier for them to stay at home. They weren't really going for any of the fakes."

Thomas Worthington's Michael Brankamp was the OCC defensive MVP with 11 tackles and a fumble recovery. The announcement drew ire from the OCC team. Anthony Finissi, a defensive back from Upper Arlington, intercepted his third pass of the game in the final seconds.

Also having a strong game for the OCC was UA running back Isaac Wildermuth, who rushed nine times for 81 yards, including a 49-yard run in the third quarter in which he was tackled at the 1-yard line. He scored on the next play to help make it 21-0 with 5:30 left in the third quarter.

Olentangy Liberty's Allen Eggleston scored on 2-yard run with 9:40 left in the second quarter. Gahanna's Brandon Magbagbeola, who led the OCC in receiving with 48 yards on three catches, scored on a 23-yard touchdown reception with 2:40 left in the third quarter to make it 28-0.

Olentangy's Ryan DiSabato kicked a 37-yard field goal with 8:19 remaining to go to end the scoring.

Central scored its lone points on a 10-yard touchdown run by Rice early in the fourth quarter. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the score at 28-6. Jordan Ross, who played for Independence, also had 55 yards rushing on four attempts for the Central, which was coached by Allan Jones of Independence.

Central leads the series 5-4 since the new format was adopted in 2001.

-- Jeremy Stewart, ThisWeek Staff Writer