SMALL-SCHOOL GAME: Big plays take center stage in North win

Joe Mitchin
Updated: Monday, May 1, 2017
South's Charles Reeves shakes off a tackle by North's Owen Loncar during Saturday's North-South small-school Classic matchup. (IndeOnline.com / Kevin Whitlock) <br /><div id="dfp-300x250" style="float:right;"><script type="text/javascript">googletag.display("dfp-300x250");</script></div>
South's Charles Reeves shakes off a tackle by North's Owen Loncar during Saturday's North-South small-school Classic matchup. (IndeOnline.com / Kevin Whitlock)


MASSILLON  It didn’t take long for the North-South Classic small-school all-stars to get a feel for what they were signing up for during Saturday’s opening act of a two-game doubleheader at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

They were in for an offensive explosion where big plays, and a countless number of opportunities to shine, were readily available. The first points of the game were scored 86 seconds into the affair. By the seven-minute mark of the opening quarter, 28 total points were on the board.

That style of play, which saw a total of 17 plays of 25 yards or more, stretched throughout the entire afternoon in an eventual 45-42 win for the North.

“This was what an all-star game is supposed to be,” North coach Jeff Bayuk of Warren JFK said. “It’s about great talent and great kids getting together and celebrating a great (high school) career.”

Bellevue quarterback Alec Foos went 11-of-18 for 370 yards and three touchdowns for the North, winning the game’s Most Valuable Player award in the process. Foos completed passes of 28 and 44 yards during the game’s opening possession, one that was finished off by Woodridge’s King Sanders’ 2-yard touchdown run.

Foos was just one of three different players to throw for a touchdown for the North in the win. Norwayne’s Elmer Zollinger and Cuyahoga Heights’ Brett Lowther were the others. Together, the trio combined to throw for 441 yards as a team in the win.

“The two-a-days definitely helped,” Foos said. “It was a lot of fun and everyone made a lot of friends. It was awesome.”

The South team, which trailed throughout Saturday’s Divisions IV through VII contest after a few self-inflicting errors on offense early on, enjoyed plenty of highlights under center, too. Fort Recovery’s Caleb Martin - a Toledo commit - tossed four touchdown passes during his 8-of-15, 293-yard day, while Garaway’s R.J. Jacobs added 218 yards and a score through the air.

After the North grabbed an early two-touchdown cushion, Martin hit Ridge Reed for a 38-yard score at the 4:07 mark of the opening quarter to make it 14-7. Reed, a Carlisle product, hauled in three catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns in all. One of those went for a 96-yard score midway through the third quarter.

Steubenville tight end Charles Reeves added five catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns for the South, which rallied from a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter to get to within three of the lead in the final moments of the game. Reeves - a Pitt recruit - was named the South team’s Offensive Player of the Game after catching touchdown passes of 61 and 73 yards in the second half.

“Everyone on our team was hungry to make a play,” South coach Mike Brown of Carlisle said. “And everyone was happy for someone else for making a play. We were able to execute a little bit, but just came up short.”

Despite those big performances, the North team never trailed Saturday. It was able to take a 28-14 lead into halftime after Lake County Perry’s Andy Foley grabbed a 6-yard touchdown pass from Zollinger with 2:26 before the break.

Foley also scored on a 14-yard pitch-and-catch from Foos earlier in the ballgame. He was named the North's Offensive Player of the Game.

“I like getting into a rhythm,” Foley said. “Once I can do that, I start getting an attitude where I just want to make plays.”

Foley caught three big passes in the second half, too, totaling 110 yards. In all, the Grand Valley State commit finished with a game-high seven catches for 211 yards and the two scores. He proved to be a real difference maker, especially against some of the South team’s undersized defensive backs.

With 8:02 left to go in the game, Foos connected with Ayersville’s Jacob Miller for a 61-yard touchdown to give the North a 38-28 advantage. A few minutes later, Foos threw for another score, this time to Port Clinton’s Donte McClure, pushing the lead to 45-28.

But back-to-back scores by the South with under a minute-and-a-half to play kept things interesting. Still, the small-school North team prevailed in the action-packed opener of the 72nd edition of the Ohio North-South Classic All-Star Classic. It was able to pounce on an onside kick attempt with just 43 seconds remaining.

“We built a lot of team chemistry and everything really came together,” Foley said. “Before this week we had only met each other once, but it all came together.”

 

Reach Joe at 330-775-1129 or joe.mitchin@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @jmitchinINDE