Tweleve area athletes competed in the 23rd annual Northwest Ohio Regional All-Star Football Game at Steinecker Stadium in Perrysburg.
The game is one final hurrah for a number of the top area football players who are not going to be playing at the collegiate level — a last chance to experience the thrill of playing on Friday night under the lights. For those who are fortunate to be playing in college, the game is a time to reflect on their high school careers while engaging in a tune-up before moving onto another stage.
A total of 76 players competed in the game, with 38 on each team. The Gold Team, which won, 21-8, had three players from Eastwood (defensive backs Blake Kohring and Skylar Dierker and offensive lineman Adam Wolf) two from Waite (running back Cyrron Barringer and wide receiver/defensive lineman Charles Smith) and center Nick Keller of Genoa.
The Black Team had six, including three from Lake (defensive back Chris Salaz, wide receiver/defensive back Ben Swartz, offensive lineman Jacob Hankish), two from Woodmore (wide receiver Zach Brossia and defensive lineman Jake Rothert) and center Zane Troknya of Oak Harbor. Troknya is set to play football this fall at Notre Dame College, located just outside of Cleveland.
The Black Team, which took an 8-0 lead in the first quarter before giving up 21 unanswered points, failed to score late after driving into the red zone in an attempt to make a rally. The game was called with 2:57 remaining due to lightning.
Barringer, who will be playing for Defiance College this fall, finished with a game-high five catches for 35 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 10-yard reception from Toledo Christian's Josh Winzeler midway through the second quarter.
The real key for Gold, however, was the play of its defense, which forced six turnovers, four of which came in the first half.
Troknya, who earned first team Sandusky Bay Conference honors for his play last season, spoke about the camaraderie the team built in the lead-up to the game.
“It was awesome,” Troknya said. “I wasn't sure how it'd go playing with kids I don't really know. But we along really well and bonded right off the get go, so that made everything a lot easier and practice went a lot faster. It was nice getting to know all the talented athletes from the area.”
According to Troknya, because the team had some of the area's most finely-tuned athletes, practices had more to do with memorizing plays and understanding assignments.
“A lot of practice was mental,” he said. “We talked a lot about plays and assignments.”
The game featured a week of practices, a few cookouts and a guest speaker, Tim Hinton, Ohio State's tight ends and fullbacks coach. Hinton, 51, a native of Amanda, a town located 30 miles southeast of Columbus, previously coached at Notre Dame (South Bend, Ind.) and Cincinnati and was a graduate assistant at Ohio State with Urban Meyer in 1986.
He also coached three different times at the high-school level, heading up the programs at Zane Trace (1987-88) in Chillicothe, Van Wert (1989) and Marion Harding (1993-03). While at Harding, Hinton led the Presidents to five conference titles and five playoff appearances and was the 1995 Ohio Division I Co-Coach of the Year.
He encouraged the players to be aggressive in the future and to live a life that would not have them regretting past decisions.
“You’re leaving high school and you’re moving on,” Hinton said. “You have a lot of journeys you will take on; life is going to have challenges. It’s OK to experience some things. It’s OK to fall off a bike and get a bloody knee. You have to get back on the bike and go again.
“Don't look back at something you did and say, 'What if? What if I had worked really hard? Don't be the 'what if' guy. Don't put yourself in that situation.”