North sets record in nation’s longest running football all-star game

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OHSFCA North-South Classic

The longest-running high school all-star game in the country – the Ohio
North-South Classic – took place on Saturday at Ohio Stadium and the
North team dominated the South, 49-7. In fact, the margin of victory of 42 points accounted for the most in
North-South history, breaking the mark of 36 points set two years ago
(when the South won 50-14). This year marked the 64th North-South game, a series that began in 1946.


COLUMBUS – The longest-running high school all-star game in the country – the Ohio North-South Classic – took place on Saturday at Ohio Stadium and the North team dominated the South, 49-7.

In fact, the margin of victory of 42 points accounted for the most in North-South history, breaking the mark of 36 points set two years ago (when the South won 50-14).

This year marked the 64th North-South game, a series that began in 1946. The North now holds a 38-23-3 advantage in the series.

The game’s MVP this year was North safety Garrett Gronowski (6-3, 205, Avon High School) who had two interceptions. He will play college football at Eastern Michigan.

The North took the opening kickoff and wasted no time in moving down the field. The drive was capped by a 25-yard touchdown run from Monterae Williams of Canton McKinley (who will play college football at Findlay). Bryan Visingardi from Springfield (who will play college ball at Slippery Rock) banged through the extra point and the North had a 7-0 lead at the 10:38 mark of the first quarter.

On the South’s first offensive possession, quarterback Jordan Barbina from Belmont Union Local (who will play this fall at Lake Erie College) was intercepted by Gronowski who returned the pick 16 yards and the North was right back in business.

North quarterback Ryan O’Rourke of Avon (who will play college ball at Slippery Rock) connected with tight end Derek Hoebing of Vermillion (who will play at Michigan State) for a nine-yard touchdown at the 3:49 mark of the first quarter. The rout was on early as the North was staked to a 14-0 lead.

Early in the second quarter on its third offensive possession of the game, the North struck yet again. Quarterback Alex Pidcock from Sylvania Southview (who will play college ball at Bowling Green) hooked up with wide receiver Dale Peterman from Youngstown Ursuline (headed to Syracuse) for a 41-yard touchdown bomb.  That made the score 21-0 with 10:56 left in the second quarter.

Peterman had a brilliant start to the game and had four catches for 99 yards at that point. He also had a 14-yard punt return later in the second stanza.

The first thing to go right for the South was when defensive back Colton Foreman of Teays Valley (who will play at Army) picked off O’Rourke on a deep ball in the second quarter. However, the South offense stalled and had to punt the ball right back to the North.

O’Roarke and Hoebing hooked up once again through the air, this time for 17 yards on a third down play.

Running back John Pittigrew from Cuyahoga Falls Christian Academy (who will play at Bowling Green) had a 16-yard run down to the three yard line. Then running back Anthony King from Ayersville (who will play college ball at Findlay) punched it in the end zone from 1-yard out for a 28-0 North lead.

The South finally broke through on the ensuing kickoff. Tyrell Massey from Columbus Marion-Franklin (who will play at Ashland) ripped off a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 3:49 left in the second quarter to make the score 28-7. Massey showed good vision and excellent speed on the play.

Due to the mercy rule that is used in the North-South Classic (if a team is trailing by 14 or more points after they score, they get the ball back) the South retained possession and tried to make things interesting before halftime.

However, Gronkowski hauled in his second interception of the game and promptly returned it 55 yards to the South’s three yard line. Two plays later, O’Rourke ran a QB sneak for a one-yard touchdown. With 2:05 remaining in the first half, the North continued to completely dominate at 35-7.

“We’ve got a lot of great skilled athletes on the offensive side of the ball and we were able to make a few big plays early on,” North head coach Mike Elder from Avon said following the game. “And then our defense, we’ve got some playmakers running around out there. We have guys that are going to play Division I college football and they know how to make plays.

“Offensively, we had some big plays and Dale Peterman who is going to Syracuse is a big-time player. We tried to get the ball in his hands and our quarterbacks played fantastic. And then the defense created some opportunities for our offense and that’s how it got out of hand and out of control.”

Elder talked more about some of the top individual performances.

“Garrett Gronowski had to big interceptions and he’s on his way to Eastern Michigan and they really got themselves a steal there – he’s a heck of a young man,” he said. “And Dan Molls from Padua, a young man going to Toledo as an inside linebacker, played extremely well. Ben Pike, a defensive end from Mentor that is going to Toledo, I also thought played well. Tyler Scott from Howland as well and he’s a Big Ten kid going to Northwestern.”

As for Gronowski, he was all smiles after receiving the MVP award. It’s certainly not what a safety expects entering an all-star game.

“We scored our first couple of touchdowns and we were having a lot of fun and then our defense stepped up,” Gronowski. “We knew they were going to be passing and we know it was on us as DBs to make plays. We really took it upon ourselves to lock down the receivers.

“It’s definitely an honor to win MVP with all these great players that are going off to play in college. So, to win the game 49-7 and get MVP is really nice.”

Midway through the third quarter, the North was facing a second-and-32 situation and the South was hoping to work its way back in the game. However, Pittigrew caught a screen pass from Pidcock, made a defender miss and sped across the field for a 34-yard gain and a first down.

But just when it looked like the North was going to score once again, the South defense buckled down and sacked Pidcock, forcing a fourth-and-29 situation and the North’s first punt of the game. The punt would have been a touchback, but Massey decided to field it at the three and was only able to return it two yards to the five.

The third quarter ended with the score still 35-7 in favor of the North.

Following a fumble recovery deep in South territory, the North scored yet another touchdown on a five-yard run from King who bulled his way into the end zone. With 11:26 left in the fourth quarter, the count was 42-7 North.

The South responded with its best drive of the game and it was led by quarterback Taylor Wood from Delaware Hayes (who will play college football at Eastern Kentucky). Wood was involved in four first downs – two passing and two rushing. However, the drive stalled when Wood threw incomplete on fourth-and-goal from the 12.

The North’s final score of the game came on an eight-yard touchdown run from Pidcock with 29 seconds left, which gave the North the record for the biggest margin of victory in Big 33 history.

Peterman was named offensive player of the game for the North and Molls was named defensive player of the game for the North.

The South’s players of the game were Massey on offense and Mike Hilty from Powell Olentangy Liberty on defense. Hilty is headed to Cincinnati to play college football.

Blowouts in the North-South Classic are nothing new, especially in recent years. In 2004, the South won 44-28. In 2005, the North won 45-17. In 2006, the North won 34-13. As mentioned earlier, in 2007, the South won 50-14. (Last year, the North won 28-14, which was a barnburner compared to the other recent games.)

Final stats were not made available for the 2009 game.

Full list of FBS college-bound players in North-South

It’s easy to see how the North dominated this game considering 17 of its players have signed college football scholarships with FBS (Division I programs), compared to just 10 for the South. That’s a pretty significant discrepancy in talent when comparing the overall rosters.

North players that will play college football at the FBS level include:
Ethan Kagy from Parma Padua Franciscan (Toledo), Garrett Gronkowski from Avon (Eastern Michigan), Alex Pidcock from Sylvania Southview (Bowling Green), Tyler Scott from Warren Howland (Northwestern),  Armand DeHaney from Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit (Ball State), Dale Peterman from Youngstown Ursuline (Syracuse), Aunre Davis from Warren Harding (Bowling Green), Dan Molls from Parma Padua Franciscan (Toledo), John Pittigrew from Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (Bowling Green), Ben Pike from Mentor (Toledo), Dan France from North Royalton (Michigan State), Ben Bertsch from Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron), Zach Laird from Olmsted Falls (Air Force), Aaron Williams from Canton GlenOak (Toledo), Joe Vidovic from Willoughby South (Akron), Pat McFall from Youngstown Boardman (Bowling Green) and Derek Hoebing from Vermilon (Michigan State).

The players from the South that will play college football at the FBS level include:
Anthony Talbert from Cincinnati Winton Woods (N.C. State), Mark Mays from Clayton Northmont (Bowling Green), Stephen Houston from West Chester Lakota West (Ole Miss), Colton Foreman from Teays Valley (Army), Terrence Glenn from Dayton Dunbar Brody Call from St. Clairsville (Kent State), Zac Kerin from Lewis Center Olentangy (Toledo), Greg Christo-Baker from Newark Licking Valley (Ohio), Mike Lamb from Ironton (Marshall), Nate Cadogan from Portsmouth (Penn State) and Mike Hilty from Powell Olentangy Liberty (Cincinnati).

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