Over 60 of Ohio 's top football players were in Columbus Thursday as the rosters were announced for the 61st annual Grange Insurance Ohio North-South Classic.
The game is set for June 17 at Columbus Crew Stadium. But because of a change in date with the Hershey, Pa.-based Big 33 Football Classic, which moved from its typical July date to June 17, both of the state's top all-star games will be played on the same night.
That caused the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association to have to do some fancy footwork. According to North-South Classic game director (and West Carrollton head coach) Bob Brigati, the coaching staffs for the North and South squads as well as the Big 33 coaching staff got together Dec. 30 at Ohio State's Woody Hayes Athletic Center to, in effect, draft players for each of the all-star games.
As a result, four OSU signees will play in the North-South Classic. Springboro TE Jake Ballard and Cincinnati Colerain LB Tyler Moeller and OL Connor Smith will be on the South squad, while Cleveland Glenville DE Robert Rose will be on the North.
Three more signees – Cleveland Glenville OL Bryant Browning and Ray Small
and Euclid LB Thaddeus Gibson – will be on the
Brigati said this will be done on a one-year experimental basis and the coaches association will entertain permanent solutions that will allow them to maintain their game – the nation's longest continuous high school football all-star game – and participate in the prestigious Big 33 game.
"We'll see," Brigati said. "With the NCAA changing the rules and allowing players to go in (for summer school) on scholarship, it has changed things. Our game was already June 17. The Big 33 game had to move to June 17 to accommodate the colleges. A number of our players are going on to colleges in the summer.
"In the past, the North and South staffs met separately and used nominations from the eight regions to make up their teams. The Big 33 staff also met separately. They could take players from both rosters for their game because it was always in July.
"This year, we met Dec. 30 and basically had a player draft."
According to Brigati, the North and South squads each chose 22 players to fill their rosters. The Big 33 staff then selected 22 players. Then each staff rotated picks to fill out the remainder of their rosters.
"The problem is when a player drops out," Brigati said. "The South coach may call and say, ‘My quarterback dropped out. I want to pick this kid up.' I say, ‘Fine.' Then, the Big 33 coach calls and says his quarterback dropped out and he wants to pick the kid up and he's gone. It's become a whole new hassle. It's like being a general manager trying to keep track of this.
"Ohio is big enough that we felt we had enough players to have three quality teams. We feel if you look at the rosters, they're pretty strong.
"We're taking this as a one-year thing. In the words of coach Clint Eastwood, ‘We'll adapt, we'll improvise, we'll overcome' the best we can and go from there."
Brigati said the future of the all-star games will be determined by the coaches association board of directors.
The North-South Classic moved to
Here are comments from three of the OSU signees ticketed for the Ohio North-South Classic:
* Rose on playing in the game -- "It will be a great experience. It will be just like playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. I'll get to meet some new people. I see a few of the guys I already know like Joe Thomas and Connor Smith. I am excited to play with them."
* Rose on signing with OSU -- "I already know what's going on down there. That's where I want to be. I am looking forward to getting down there."
* Rose on being one of 21 college signees at Glenville on Wednesday -- "It was a great experience. Our coach has a real good relationship with a lot of universities. It was great to be with those guys signing."
* Rose on fellow signee Chris Wells -- "Me and Chris talk all the time. He comes up to Cleveland (to the Euclid Sports Plant) all the time to work out. We chill and have fun."
* Smith on playing at Ohio State -- "I am looking forward to it a lot. It will be a great opportunity. I am really excited to get up there and have a chance to compete at the highest level. I just want to go in and compete and do my best and just do what they want me to do."
* Smith on playing in this game -- "I feel very honored to be selected with the best players in Ohio. I feel fortunate to play against a bunch of the state's best players."
* Smith on being denied a chance to play in the Big 33 -- "I think it is kind of weird they are held on the same day. My coach didn't tell me which one to play in. I guess it's good in a way because a lot of players who would not get a chance to play in one of these games will get that chance."
* Smith on following in his father's footsteps at Ohio State -- "I loved going to games when I was little. That had a lot to do with it, going up there and experiencing that atmosphere and the people."
* Smith on playing for offensive line coach/coordinator Jim Bollman -- "Coach Bollman, first of all, I like him as a person. He is a Christian man and that is important to me. On a personal level, he is a great guy. From the variety of his coaching resume and everything else, he knows his stuff. The things he teaches work, obviously. You see all the experience they have, I am looking forward to working with Coach Bolls."
* Moeller on playing in this game -- "It will be neat to play alongside Cobrani Mixon one more time. He is one of my (Colerain) teammates who is headed to Michigan."
* Moeller on his team's 10-2 season at Colerain -- "We had a good year. We definitely wanted to repeat (as state champions). It didn't turn out like we wanted it to, but we still had a good year."
* Moeller on not playing in the Big 33 -- "It would be neat to get to play in both games. I like to play football, so getting to play in two games is better than just one. But then you think how most guys don't even get selected to play in one, so I guess it's OK."
* Moeller on whether the linebacker openings at OSU impacted his decision -- "A little bit. But I knew that had great people already up there. Really, I just wanted to play at Ohio State."
* Moeller on following in A.J. Hawk's footsteps -- "Who doesn't want to play like A.J. Hawk and do the things he does and go to the NFL like he is? Hopefully, I will be as close to as good as he is."
Cincinnati Colerain will be represented by OSU-bound Connor Smith and Tyler Moeller (left, center) and Michigan-bound Cobrani Mixon
Below are the rosters for the North-South Classic:
GRANGE INSURANCE OHIO NORTH SOUTH CLASSIC
Saturday, June 17, 7 p.m.
Columbus Crew Stadium
Head coach – John Magistro (Bellaire). Assistant coaches – Doug Frye (St.
Marys Memorial), Andy Helms (East Clinton), Todd Knipp (
No. Player Pos. Ht. Wt. High School
Eric Arnett WR 6-5 210 Watkins Memorial
Ryan Ault OL 6-2 311 Piqua
Jake Ballard TE 6-7 268 Springboro
Demeatrus Benjamin DB 5-11 212 Steubenville
Josh Chichester WR 6-6 215 W.C. Lakota West
K.C. Christian DB 5-11 195 Rock Hill
Vince Corner DB 5-10 195 Springfield North
Jeff Cumberland WR 6-5 228 Cols. Brookhaven
Nate Davis QB 6-3 215 Bellaire
Ryan Downard DB
Bo Frye RB 6-0 215 St. Marys Memorial
Mark Jackson OL 6-6 285 Cols. Brookhaven
Erik Jones DB 5-9 161 Cin. Winton Woods
Tad Kilburn K 6-0 170 Lemon-Monroe
Casey Kjos DB 6-3 190 W.C. Lakota East
Darius Lewis RB 5-11 215 Ironton
Kris Luchsinger DL 6-4 226 Cols. Watterson
Angelo Magnone DL Steubenville
Lamar Mapp DL 6-4 255 Springfield South
Don Matheny DL 6-2 295 Lancaster
Jake Miller OL 6-6 318 Tuscarawas Valley
Tyler Moeller LB 6-5 205 Cin. Colerain
Trent Nwaru DB 5-11 182 Cols. Beechcroft
Bryant Potter LB 6-0 190 Centerburg
Armand Robinson WR 6-0 197 Reynoldsburg
Connor Smith OL 6-5 300 Cin. Colerain
Jarrod Smith OL 6-5 275 Fairborn
Head coach – Vic Whiting (Canal Fulton Northwest). Assistant coaches – Matt Duffy (Willoughby South), Keith Grabowski (Amherst Steele), Jason Hall (Lyndhurst Brush), Travis Moyer (Bucyrus Wynford), Joe Vassalotti (Tallmadge).
Angelo Babbaro DB 5-9 184 Canfield
Jared DeWalt OL 6-5 290 Lyndhurst Brush
Phil Evans RB 6-3 210 Bucyrus Wynford
Matt Guhn DL 6-2 250 Clyde
Mark Jackson DB 6-1 190 Canton McKinley
Neil James DB Mass. Washington
Daven Jones WR Clev. Glenville
Yianni Karvounides OL 6-3 276 Tallmadge
Ross Kersey OL 6-2 286 Toledo SF DeSales
Rudy Kirbus QB Clev. St. Ignatius
Ryan Kish LB 6-1 235 Amherst Steele
Alex Knipp RB 6-0 190 Amherst Steele
Joe Knopick LB 6-0 200 Ravenna Southeas
Marc Krauss WR 6-3 210 Patrick Henry
P.J. Mahone WR 6-0 195 Elyria
Anthony Mirando LB Jefferson Area
Josh Moore WR 6-2 190 Tiffin Columbian
Joe Morgan WR 6-2 175 Canton McKinley
Bill Nagy OL 6-4 300 Hudson
Robert Rose DL 6-4 255 Clev. Glenville
Nick Rousher OL 6-2 265 Canfield
Dan Spring LB 6-1 227 Avon Lake
Joe Thomas OL Lake . St. Edward
Alexsey Tigay DL Solon
Bryan Wright K 6-2 205 Salem