Area players excited for North-South Classic


During his senior year, running back Jordan Jarrell led the Pickerington High School Central football team to the 2006 OCC-Ohio Division championship and scored on a 70-yard run to help the South all-stars win the 2007 Ohio North-South All-Star Classic 50-7.

His half-brother, Central senior running back/linebacker Isaiah Richmond, is determined not to be outdone.

After helping the Tigers win their eighth consecutive league title last fall, Richmond will be among several central Ohio athletes competing in the 69th annual All-Star Classic on Saturday, April 26, at Welcome Stadium in Dayton. A game for players in Divisions IV, V, VI and VII will kick off at 11 a.m., followed by players in Divisions I, II and III at 3 p.m.

All area athletes in both games will play for the South.

While Richmond was second-team all-state last fall, also representing the Tigers will be first-team all-state punter Rudy Stefanitsis.

"A few years back my brother played in it," Richmond said. "I remember there was a lot of passing and a lot of excitement. The game has been a big game for our school, and for me and my friend (Stefanitsis) to both be in it, it's crazy."

Also participating in the Divisions I-III game will be Hilliard Davidson defensive lineman Alex Backenstoe, who has committed to play for Air Force and shared state Defensive Player of the Year honors in Division I with linebacker Tegray Scales of Cincinnati Colerain. Scales also is on the South roster.

Headlining the North all-star team is Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary linebacker Dante Booker, an Ohio State signee who was named Ohio Mr. Football and shared state Defensive Player of the Year honors in Division III last fall with defensive back Vayante Copeland of Dayton Thurgood Marshall.

Copeland will play for the South.

Mentor quarterback Conner Krizancic, a state co-Offensive Player of the Year in Division I, also will play for the North.

Two of central Ohio's top skill-position players, Westerville Central quarterback Jared Drake and Davidson running back D.D. Clark, will play in the Divisions I-III game.

Drake, the ThisWeek Super 25 captain, has signed with East Tennessee State while Clark, who rushed for 2,003 yards last fall, has signed with Walsh.

"I'm very, very excited," Drake said. "There's a great talent pool from all over the state."

Clark, Drake and Stefanitsis were joined on the Division I all-state team by Westerville Central's Nick Richardson, a Kentucky signee who will be among the offensive linemen for the South.

New Albany's Hayden Hatten (LB), who was one of the state's Players of the Year on defense, and Worthington Kilbourne's Seth Hill (DB) are among the Division II players in the game. Hill has committed to Air Force.

Also playing will be Marion-Franklin's Martesse Patterson (OL), a Purdue signee who was first-team all-state in Division III.

Others in the game are Davidson's Phillipie Motley (DB) and Walnut Ridge's Robert Bowers (DL), both of whom have signed with Pittsburgh, and Marion-Franklin's Omar Alfred (DB).

Kilbourne coach Vince Trombetti will be an assistant on the South staff, which will be led by Chillicothe's Ron Hinton.

"It's a great experience," Motley said. "I'm happy to have the opportunity to play in this game because you get to play with some really good players."

Last year marked the first time the North-South Classic was split into two games, and it also was the first time the event was held in Dayton. The North-South game was held in Crew Stadium from 2001-07 and in Ohio Stadium from 2008-12.

The Divisions IV-VII game will feature a group of central Ohio players led by Ready's Akili Taylor (RB) and Brady Taylor (OL), who have committed to Navy and Ohio State, respectively, after helping their team reach a Division VI state semifinal last fall.

Akili Taylor was a state co-Offensive Player of the Year and was joined on the all-state team by Brady Taylor and Newark Catholic's Brenden Jurden (OL).

Hartley's Jacob Mercier (WR/DB) and Kalil Morris (TE/DL), who made special mention and first-team all-state, respectively, in Division V, also will be in the game. They helped the Hawks to a state runner-up finish last fall.

Division IV players on the roster include Johnstown's Clayton Bullard (DL) and Licking Valley's Ty Griffith (WR), each of whom made first-team all-state, and Watterson's Cody Calhoun (DB), who was third-team all-state.

Also competing for the South is Clarksville Clinton-Massie's Bayle Wolf (RB), who was the state's Offensive Player of the Year in Division IV.

Hartley's Brad Burchfield is the South's coach.

"I am honored to have the chance to represent Watterson in an all-star game, especially considering the prestige associated with this particular game," said Calhoun, who plans to attend Case Western Reserve. "All of us players get along very well and coach Burchfield has been doing an excellent job. We all can't wait to play North."