Five Cardinals showcased in North/South Game

Five future Ball State Cardinals got a chance to showcase their talents with Indiana's top high school football players Friday at the 2009 Grange Insurance North/South All-Star Classic.

Eric Williams, Kitt O'Brien, David Brown, Zane Fakes and Ethan Buckles all saw playing time in the game. But top honors went to Williams, the Warren Central (Ind.) product that won the South Most Valuable Player award in a 20-13 setback.

Williams carried the ball 12 times for 70 yards and also added a touchdown in the third quarter. Williams also caught one pass for 19 yards and also served as the South's punter.

"It was a really good honor," Williams said. "There were a lot of great players on this team, going out there with Indiana Mr. Football (Morgan Newton of Carmel, a University of Kentucky signee). And to win the South honor over him and against all the other talent we had, it's a great honor to me.

"I never thought it would be me. You go into a game with a team like this, I've got to do a lot to be able to be named MVP. The fact that I was the MVP for the South and did what I did to help my team was a really great honor."

Williams' 3-yard plunge into the end zone with 6:56 left in the third quarter brought the South to within 17-13.

"I came out in the first half and I was really thirsty for a touchdown and it didn't turn out that way," Williams said. "I made it a goal for myself that I was going to get in the end zone even if I had to drag everybody in and that's what happened."

For the South squad, Brown ran the ball two times for eight yards and Fakes had two carries for 14 yards. Fakes also caught a nine-yard pass. Buckles did not catch a pass.

O'Brien played a pivotal role for the North offensive line, helping them run for 139 yards on 35 carries. Throughout the game, O'Brien showed a lot of the quickness, drive and agility that led to Ball State making an offer in the first place.

O'Brien continually finished blocks, showed quickness on pulls and was able to drive defensive lineman back. He also talked about winning the game for North coach Rich Dodson of Northwood, who was coaching in his final game after retiring this past season.

O'Brien was the only BSU player on the North, while the other four were on the South.

"They were telling me all week they were going to smash us," O'Brien said. "I just kept it quiet, I knew we were going to pull it out."

O'Brien, along with the entire BSU freshmen class, has been on campus since June 1. O'Brien said he has spent a majority of that time learning how to pass block after doing very little of it at run-heavy Lewis Cass.

"This is my first time playing in a game-time situation where I had to pass block (since last season)," O'Brien said. "I think I did a pretty good job. I've been working on my pass blocking and this gave me an opportunity to work on what I've learned.

"I've always been a physical run blocker in high school and being able to see how I do against these really good defensive ends who are going D-1 was nice. I hope to keep it up and continue to have success at Ball State."

Skyler Titus of Northwood, who's heading to Purdue University as a walk-on, was named the game MVP. He was 5-of-10 for 43 yards and a touchdown while running seven times for 46 yards.

Delta's Greg Heban led all defenders with two interceptions.

Newton finished the game 5-of-18 for 103 yards and ran 11 times for 42 yards.

With camp starting Aug. 3 for the incoming freshmen, the players are anxious to build on last year's 12-2 record, which included a Mid-American Conference West title and a GMAC Bowl appearance.

"Now it's time to lock and load for BSU," Williams said.

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