Four local high school athletes competed in the 71st Annual North-South All-Star Classic last month in Dayton, Ohio. Sam Hall, Jake Darnell, Jordan Howard and Cain Madden represented the Portsmouth area in the annual football all-star game held at Welcome Stadium in Dayton.
The North-South All-Star Classic showcases the best senior football players in Ohio and is put on by the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association.
Hall, Darnell and Howard represented Wheelersburg High School, while Madden represented Minford in the small school game for schools in Division IV, V, VI and VII. All four athletes played together, as members of the South team.
The South defeated North 16-7.
Aside from the four local players participating, Wheelersburg football coach Rob Woodward was named one of the assistant coaches for the South team.
“It’s the longest running high school all-star football game in the country,” Woodward said. “It is divided into two games. There’s a Division I, II and III game, followed by a Division IV, V, VI and VII game.”
Players are nominated by various coaches and then selected to participate in the game.
“Hall played offensive guard in the game. Darnell played safety and Howard played running back,” Woodward said. “They all did an outstanding job.”
Madden played defensive tackle for the South in the small schools game.
“Cain was selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the Game,” Woodward said.
Madden was selected from four players from the game. According to Woodward, one offensive and one defensive player is selected from each team. From there, Madden was selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the Game.
“He went up against some very highly touted recruits,” Woodward said. “One of those recruits was from Ohio State and he performed very well.”
Madden competed against Gavin Cupp who will be playing for the Ohio State Buckeyes next fall.
“You’re selected at the regional meeting and then voted on,” Woodward said. “One representative for each position, then the coaching staff that was selected goes and evaluates and comes up with the roster.”
The game is also an opportunity for seniors to have one final game before their high school career ends, which also allows those players who had played against each other for four years get to play as teammates.
Playing in the North-South All-Star Classic is a tremendous feat for those players selected.
“It’s outstanding to be recognized by coaches throughout the area,” Woodward said. “You are chosen to represent our region, in this case, Region 14. Just to be able to compete is an honor.”
Woodward said the committee tries to have the best football players in the game, but some of those players also participate in baseball, tennis and track.
“Being selected is an outstanding accomplishment,” Woodward said. “Recognition for the talent we have in the area and how it can compete throughout the state, and we did really well.”
Having four participants in this year’s game only solidifies the high level of athleticism and talent in the area.
“Sometimes we’re not on the big stage in terms of Ohio,” Woodward said. “We do have some outstanding kids and players here and its great for them to get recognized.”
Woodward was chosen as one of six coaches for the South team and said he was honored to represent his players, fellow coaches and the area.
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.