North over South 28-12 in D-4 All-Star Scruff
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT – As high school All-Star games go, I generally enjoy the District IV All-Star match-up more than others. It brings with it heated rivalries and an old-school, smash-mouth style of play. Friday night’s contest brought all of that and unfortunately, much more – namely cheap-shots, personal fouls, ejections and more penalties than any game in recent memory.
The game started out normally enough with the North team taking possession and Williamsport’s Drae Lewis chipping off yardage down to midfield where Loyalsock’s Stephen Stopper connected with Joe Nolan (Wlmspt.) for an 18 yard reception to the South 32 yardline. Then Stopper took matters upon himself, scrambling to the end zone from 28 yards out for the opening score. Stopper would end the night with game MVP honors, going 6/12 passing for 107 yards and nine carries for 50 yards and a touchdown.
In all, the North’s QB’s (including Taylor English of Jersey Shore and Dakota Roof of Towanda)combined for 233 yards passing which far exceeded the South squad’s production.
The South team seemed stymied by the much larger, faster North team’s defense as they were forced to punt after only three plays. A fumble recovery by Line Mountain’s Tyler Klinger on the punt gave them new life at the North 30 yard line.
The South was not able to capitalize on the field position because of two incomplete passes, but they did learn that they could move the ball on the ground using the legs of Justin Pelowski (Mount Carmel) and Anthony Wagner (Mifflinburg).
This gave the South defense a new spark resulting in a three-and-out series by the North and good field position near midfield. Three plays later Loyalsock’s Frank Pagana stole the South’s thunder, picking off a long pass and setting up the North’s next scoring drive.
The series showcased much of the North’s talent, with Stopper hitting Corey Petterson (Canton) for gains of five and 28 yards, and Dakota Roof breaking free for a 28 yard option run to set up a 10 yard Lewis touchdown early in the second quarter.
Unfortunately, this was also the point when the wheels started coming loose on this game. The officials largely turned a blind eye to cheap-shots and illegal blocks occurring on every play. Then, on a third-and-ten pass which sailed incomplete, a dangerous late hit by a Towanda player nearly took Chris Moore (Line Mt.) out of the game. The player was penalized, but not ejected, enraging both players and coaches for the South.
However, the penalty kept the South’s drive alive. A 23-yard pass from Central’s Matt Faux to Charles Franklin (Bloomsburg) got them within striking distance, and three rushes from Wagner got them into the end zone.
As the ugly demeanor of this game continued to rise, it tainted the talented play of guys like Stopper who orchestrated a terrific drive at the end of the first half which came up short on a missed field-goal attempt. The half ended at 14-6 for the North with tempers flaring going into the locker rooms to prepare for the second half.
The third quarter was largely an exchange of fumbles and penalties between the two squads. The North was able to tack on another score after a fumble recovery at the South’s three yard line. Following yet another illegal block penalty which set up a second-and-goal at the 15, Logan Welshans (Jersey Shore) hauled in a pass from teammate Taylor English for the TD, and a 21-6 lead.
The teams exchanged interceptions as the final quarter began, and the cheap-shots got completely out-of-hand. Chris Moore, who had been leveled by a late hit in the first quarter, got his wind back and rumbled for an 18 yard gain which ended in another personal foul from, and ejection of, the same player from the first incident.
Not to be out-done, the ejected player received yet another personal foul for shooting his mouth off as he left the field. The following play produced little better as Moore ran the ball again, this time drawing a personal foul and ejection of a Loyalsock player. After 50 yards in penalties against the North, Moore finally sealed the drive with a three yard score, bringing the score to 21-12.
Midway through the fourth a sack by Montoursville’s Nick Dawson forced a fumble that was scooped up by Thomas Burk (Williamsport) and carried in for the final score, extending the North’s lead to 28-12.
Thankfully for all involved (players, coaches, fans & officials), this game ended without further incident. Whether this was an instance of “a few bad apples” or something deeper, it all points to a lack of discipline which needs to be dealt with much more swiftly (by coaches, officials & parents) if these kinds of all-star games are going to continue.
Congratulations go out to the rest of these young men as they close their high school football careers. Special recognition goes to Stephen Stopper(Loyalsock) – game MVP; Cory Peterson(Canton) – North’s offensive MVP (5 catches/106 yds.); Charles Franklin(Bloomsburg) – South’s offensive MVP (4catches/41yds.); Matt Gilger(Lourdes) – South’s defensive MVP (5 tackle/1 Int.); and John Lamb(Southern Columbia) – recipient of the South Coaches Award and $250 scholarship.
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