It was as much a celebration of the setting as it was a celebration of the game in the Ohio North-South All-Star game last Friday at Ohio Stadium.

It was as much a celebration of the setting as it was a celebration of the game in the Ohio North-South All-Star game last Friday at Ohio Stadium.

The South All-Stars beat the North All-Stars 23-20 in front of a crowd that appeared sparse until it was allowed onto the field after the game for the postgame ceremony.

Several awards were given out during the ceremony, including the Most Valuable Player, which went to Marion-Franklin quarterback Verlon Reed. He was only 1-for-7 passing for 10 yards but had a 37-yard touchdown run with 2 minutes, 42 seconds left in the third quarter to help put South ahead 23-12. Reed finished with 45 yards rushing on five attempts.

Television cameras and newspaper reporters swarmed Reed afterward, bombarding him with questions about playing for Ohio State next year.

He told them it was nice to get his first game in Ohio Stadium out of the way.

"Absolutely, I'm very competitive and to get at least one game in on this turf, it gets me comfortable," said Reed, who last fall led Marion-Franklin to its first state semifinal appearance. "I won't be all jittery when I get here (next season)."

As he was talking, there were dozens of grade-school children running around, throwing toy footballs to each other. They were pretending to score touchdowns in the end zone in what was once the open end of the stadium.

The game was played in July at Crew Stadium in previous years, but was moved to Ohio Stadium to be held the day before Ohio State's annual spring game. Altogether, four future Buckeyes played in last Friday's game.

New Albany's Harrison Scott said he's looking forward to the day he returns to Ohio Stadium as a member of Indiana's football team. Scott, who sacked Mentor Lake Catholic's Jarrod Ronyak in the fourth quarter, said the South's intense practices were the key to getting ready for the game. The South practiced once a week for a month leading up to the game.

"We were going full thud," Scott said. "We stayed away from trying to injure players, but we definitely were going all out as much as we could. We're all great athletes out here, so we were all in pretty good shape."

The phase that struggled was special teams. Neither team made an extra point until the South's Kyle Clinton of Dublin Coffman finally made one that gave the South a 13-12 lead at the end of the first half. After the game's previous three touchdowns, the teams failed on the extra-point attempt.

Reynoldsburg's Roosevelt Nix blocked an extra point after North scored on a 36-yard touchdown pass to make it 12-6 with 35 seconds left in the second quarter. The next time the North had the ball, Nix returned a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown as time expired in the first half.

Nix, a Kent State recruit, said he started getting ready for the season two weeks after Reynoldsburg's final game. Starting early in the weight room was a typical part of his offseason regimen, but getting ready to play a game in April was a challenge.

"It was so hard to get into football shape," Nix said. "It's always hard to prepare for a game because you never know what the speed is like. It was tough, especially the cardio."

South also scored on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Logan's Patrick Angle to Westerville South's Jack Tomlinson and a 27-yard field goal by Clinton, meaning that all four of South's scores came from a Columbus-area player.

Tomlinson, a Ball State recruit, had two catches for 63 yards and a touchdown and was named South's offensive MVP.

Coffman coach Mark Crabtree, who coached the South team, told his players to play like they belonged on a college team.

"We just talked about (how) you guys are going to be playing against guys that you're going to be playing against in college," Crabtree said. "There's no reason to be in awe. You read about guys or have seen them on TV. Those are your competitors. Some cases you're going to play with them in college. You might as well get used to playing at a really high level right now."

The game was in its 65th year. The North leads the series 38-24-3.