DAYTON — As their team celebrated a victory in what was believed to be the first overtime game in the history of the 69th annual Ohio North-South Classic, South coach Brad Burchfield and Watterson senior defensive back Cody Calhoun both talked about the camaraderie that was developed through a few short practices.
Of the 33 players who helped the South all-stars beat the North 28-27 in the Divisions IV-VII football game April 26 at Welcome Stadium in Dayton, 12 were from the Central District.
“We had a lot of good chemistry,” said Burchfield, who has been Hartley’s coach for six seasons. “It was a lot of fun to be around. I didn’t know it would be this fun.”
“It was a lot of fun just because of the team chemistry,” Calhoun said. “We’re a bunch of players that hadn’t played with each other before, but the team chemistry was just as good as if we’d played together all year.”
Kenton wide receiver Justin Sawmiller earned the game’s Most Outstanding Player award. He had five catches for 112 yards for the South, including a 6-yard touchdown from Centerburg’s Tyler Stoyle with 4 minutes, 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Clarksville Clinton-Massie running back Bayle Wolf was held to three yards rushing but completed a halfback touchdown pass of 5 yards to Reading’s Shane Roy with 9:34 left in the second quarter and scored on a 1-yard run in overtime to earn the South’s Offensive MVP honor.
Clinton-Massie’s Kelson Gauden was named the South’s Defensive MVP.
Stoyle completed 13 of 19 passes for 181 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Ready running back Akili Taylor rushed 15 times for 27 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown with 1:41 left in the first half.
The South led 14-3 at halftime. North’s Ishmael Hargrove from Gates Mills Gilmour Academy returned an interception 68 yards for a touchdown with 3:57 left in the third quarter and Kirtland’s Sam Kukura ran for the two-point conversion to tie it at 14.
After Sawmiller’s touchdown gave the South a 21-14 lead, North quarterback Colin Gilbert from Columbiana Crestview hit Huron wide receiver Cody Thompson on the next play for a 61-yard touchdown to tie it.
The South moved to the North 10-yard line on the ensuing drive, but Stoyle was intercepted by Gilbert and the game went to overtime.
Wolf’s touchdown on the first overtime possession, followed by Hartley kicker Colin Barringer’s extra point, gave the South a 28-21 lead.
The North scored two plays later on a 10-yard run by Sullivan Black River’s Andrew Vaughn, but Hargrove was stopped on the two-point conversion run by Johnstown’s Clayton Bullard to preserve the win.
Gilbert was named the North’s Offensive MVP and Hillsdale’s Ryan Bee was the North’s Defensive MVP.
“One of our guys got (Hargrove’s) leg and I was just there,” Bullard said. “That was a really fun game.”
Also playing for the South were Licking Valley’s Ty Griffith (WR), Hartley’s Jacob Mercier (DB) and Kalil Morris (DL), Newark Catholic’s Brenden Jurden (OL) and Ready’s Brady Taylor (OL).
South loses 23-14 in Divisions I-III game
Defense ruled throughout much of the Divisions I-III all-star game, and New Albany’s Hayden Hatten made his presence felt at linebacker and on special teams.
In addition to getting a pair of tackles on kickoff returns and a tackle for loss on the North’s first possession, Hatten blocked an extra point on the final play of the first quarter for the South.
The North held the South scoreless during the second half, however, and won 23-14.
“My high school stresses extra-point blocks and taking pride in special teams,” said Hatten, who was named the South’s Defensive MVP. “We weren’t getting a lot of pressure on their quarterback, which made a difference for them.”
The South took a 7-0 lead with 7:14 to go in the opening quarter when Westerville Central quarterback Jared Drake hit Huber Heights Wayne wide receiver Tristan Davis for a 5-yard touchdown. The drive began at the North 46 after an interception by Worthington Kilbourne’s Seth Hill.
The North made it 7-6 on a 9-yard touchdown from Mentor’s Conner Krizancic to Stow’s Brian Groves, but Hatten blocked the extra point.
An 85-yard interception return by Mansfield Senior’s Chekiah Washington gave the North a 13-7 lead, but Zanesville quarterback Thomas Wibbeler of the South hit Wayne’s Trey McFadden for a 6-yard touchdown to make it 14-13.
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s Parris Campbell, a running back on his way to Ohio State, scored on a 62-yard touchdown pass from Grafton Midview quarterback Cody Callaway on the final play of the first half to give North a 20-14 led.
The North’s Mike Knoll from Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit, who was named his team’s Offensive MVP, kicked a 33-yard field goal in the third quarter to complete the scoring.
“I thought we bonded together as a team and all enjoyed being there,” Drake said. “They had a couple big plays and we couldn’t come back from them.”
Callaway was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player and North Canton Hoover’s Luke Grandjean was named the North’s Defensive MVP.
Drake, who completed six of nine passes for 51 yards and one touchdown, was named the South’s Offensive MVP.
Marion-Franklin offensive lineman Martesse Patterson caught a deflected pass for a 6-yard reception.
Pickerington Central’s Isaiah Richmond had five rushes for 24 yards and teammate Rudy Stefanitsis punted for the South.
Also on the South’s roster were Beechcroft’s Adonis Davis (LB), Hilliard Davidson’s D.D. Clark (RB) and Phillipie Motley (DB), Marion-Franklin’s Omar Alfred (DB) and Pickerington North’s Geno Rollo (DL).
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” said Rollo, who had a tackle for a loss.
S — Davis 5 pass from Drake (Martin kick)
N — Groves 9 pass from Krizancic (kick blocked)
N — Washington 85 interception return (Knoll kick)
S — McFadden 6 pass from Wibbeler (Martin kick)
N — Campbell 62 pass from Callaway (Knoll kick)
N — Knoll 33 FG
N — Slauterbeck 32 FG
S — Roy 5 pass from Wolf (Barringer kick)
S — Taylor 6 run (Barringer kick)
N — Slauterbeck 32 FG
N — Hargrove 68 interception return (Kukura run)
S — Sawmiller 6 pass from Stoyle (Barringer kick)
N — Thompson 61 pass from Gilbert (Slauterbeck kick)
S — Wolf 1 run (Barringer kick)
N — Vaughn 10 run (run failed)