With his team leading 14-0, White coach Mark Solis had a simple message for his players at halftime of the Central District All-Star Football Game on June 22 at Fortress Obetz.
“ ‘For many of you, this is going to be the last time you ever put pads on,’ ” Solis told the 2019 high school graduates. “ ‘You have 30 minutes, so how do you want to remember it? Give everything you have.’ The kids played well. I was proud of them.”
The White team went on to defeat the Red team 22-0 behind a strong defense, opportunistic offense and solid special teams.
Solis, who is entering his seventh season as coach at Olentangy and has guided the Braves to five consecutive playoff appearances, hadn’t met most of his players until practices were held in the days leading up to the game, but he was quite familiar with one of the two quarterbacks on his roster.
Olentangy’s Connor Haag, who passed for 2,264 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Hilliard Bradley wide receiver Jack Duffer in the fourth quarter and the White team added the two-point conversion to cap the scoring.
“That was cool,” Solis said of the touchdown pass. “I loved to have (Haag at quarterback).”
The White team opened the scoring in the second quarter when Beechcroft’s Elijah Harrison scooped up a blocked punt for a touchdown. Later in the quarter, Thomas Worthington running back DiJahn Davis scored on a 6-yard run to extend the lead to 14-0.
Duffer was named the White team’s Offensive Most Valuable Player and Gahanna defensive back Percy King was its Defensive MVP.
Canal Winchester offensive lineman Wally Kalinowski was the Red team’s Offensive MVP and Walnut Ridge safety Kenneth Lawrence was its Defensive MVP. The Red team was guided by Columbus South coach George Yates II.
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.
Seventy-one players representing 44 schools were scheduled to participate in this year’s event.
“We’re definitely proud,” game organizer Jumbo Harrell said. “One of our main missions is to bring communities from areas around central Ohio together and have a great day of celebration while we also support our youth, who are either going onto college or entering into adulthood. We just want to make them know that we love them, we support them and we wish them the best on the next step in life.”