Seventy-one players representing 44 schools, many of them all-district or all-state honorees, are scheduled to participate in the Central District All-Star Football Game on Saturday, June 22, at Fortress Obetz.
That level of talent should give Red team coach George Yates II and his counterpart with the White team, Mark Solis, plenty to work with, especially at one position.
Five of the quarterbacks scheduled to play -- Walnut Ridge's Isaiah Murphy, Westland's DeShawn Evans and Whitehall's Raymell Byrd for the Red team and Hilliard Bradley's Griffin Veil and Olentangy's Connor Haag for the White -- combined to throw for 9,521 yards last season, and Byrd and Veil also proved to be potent rushing threats in leading their teams to the playoffs.
"That's definitely a group of guys that's at the top of their class," game organizer Jumbo Harrell said.
For nearly three decades, the event was known as the Central Ohio All-Star Game and was held in late July. The game was moved to June in 2010 and renamed the Cap City Senior Bowl before taking on its current name in 2017.
This year's participants -- 36 on the Red team and 35 for the White -- represent schools in Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Madison and Pickaway counties.
Byrd, an Ashland recruit, completed 69 of 148 passes for 1,109 yards, eight touchdowns and nine interceptions and rushed for 1,784 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior to lead Whitehall to the Division II, Region 7 final and earn first-team all-state honors. Murphy completed 111 of 162 passes for 1,756 yards and was named second-team all-state.
"I'm spreadsheet-oriented, so I'll get all the guys' natural positions and try to get them into spots not only where they'll succeed, but where they'll be comfortable and happy playing," Yates said. "We have a lot of good-sized linemen and talented skill players. We have a lot to work with."
Last fall, Yates led Columbus South to a 6-4 record in his first season at his alma mater, from which he graduated in 1999. It was the Bulldogs' first winning season since 2006.
Solis has guided Olentangy to five consecutive playoff appearances, including a Division II state semifinal in 2014. He is 52-19 in six seasons with the Braves and 153-69 in 20 seasons overall, including stints at Ashland Crestview (1999-2003), Elyria (2004-06), Twinsburg (2007-10) and Lorain (2011-12).
Other top talent for the Red team includes second-team all-state defensive lineman Jalen Bradley from Walnut Ridge, first-team all-state two-way lineman Ryan Redifer from Whitehall and Teays Valley defensive back Taylor Robinson, who was named second-team all-state. Redifer will join Byrd at Ashland.
Last season, Haag completed 178 of 257 passes for 2,264 yards, 20 touchdowns and three interceptions and Veil, who was named OCC-Cardinal Division co-Offensive Player of the Year, was 172-for-267 passing for 2,541 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions and rushed for 261 yards and three touchdowns on 96 carries.
Their top playmakers should include Gahanna running back Justus Harris, Dublin Scioto wide receiver and Toledo recruit Kenyon Pannell and DeSales wide receiver/defensive back and Alderson Broaadus recruit Anthony Sciarroni.
Last fall, Harris rushed for 1,055 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 29 passes, Pannell caught 44 passes for 847 yards and 12 touchdowns and was named second-team all-state and Sciarroni had 19 catches for 340 yards and five scores and made 60 tackles on defense.
"This is it for some guys, their last opportunity to play before they go off to college," Solis said. "It's simple in terms of how you practice for these kinds of games. We didn't have a practice in full pads. You rotate guys in and out of different spots where they'll have a chance to make plays. I'll make it clear when we meet that we definitely have an expectation of going out there and winning, but I want to make sure they have a good experience."
The Red team won 10-0 last year.