INDIANAPOLIS – They graduated from high school in the spring, but the final prep football hurrah is tonight for some of Fort Wayne's finest players.
Eleven of area's best will suit up for the North team in the Grange Insurance All-Star Classic at 7 tonight at Indianapolis North Central High School.
They're all looking forward to college football Saturdays, but savoring one last Friday night.
“I still consider it a high school game,” Churubusco running back Jason Nicodemus said. “It's one last chance to represent our high school and make them proud, but it does get us ready to head into college camp. It's a nice way to wrap up high school.”
The North team, which includes Snider coach Kurt Tippmann as defensive coordinator, will rely on a number of local players for offensive production.
The football will find its way to the hands of Nicodemus, Heritage quarterback Conner Sheehan, North Side running back Anthony Linnear, Concordia Lutheran wide receiver Marq Rogers, Garrett wide receiver Drake Landes and Snider tight end Addison Dellinger.
There are also some big linemen on duty in Snider's Ruben Holcomb, North Side's Russell Collins, Huntington North's Austin Garde and East Noble's Drake DeMuyt. Homestead kicker Nolan McMahon is also on the roster.
“It's great to be a part of the elite few that get to come down here,” Holcomb said.
“It's been really fun,” Dellinger said. “Some of the players from the Fort Wayne area I knew of but didn't know well and I'm getting to know them and people from South Bend and other places. They're cool guys. It's fun getting to know other people.”
As with any game, the bottom line will be to win, and it's likely Fort Wayne players will play a key role if that happens for the North squad.
Rogers gives Sheehan and other North quarterbacks a big target at 6-foot-4. Linnear has outstanding burst at running back and Nicodemus is capable of running over people. The North team even has some passes for the tight end. Dellinger also will lineup wide on occasion.
Rogers will play at Montana, Sheehan at Bluffton, Linnear at Findlay, Nicodemus at Saint Francis and Dellinger at St. Joseph's. Landes will play at Manchester, and Holcomb at the University of Indianapolis, where the team stayed and practiced all week.
Tim Roth of Winamac is the North head coach and Mishawaka Marian's Reggie Glon and Merrillville's Zach Wells have been helping oversee the offense.
“The offense is really similar to the one North Side, so we're catching on real well,” Linnear said. “We have a bunch of slot guys, quick guys with good hands.”
Sheehan said he believes the Fort Wayne players are the most talented on the North roster, and the team is eager to show the South what it can do.
“It's a little bit of fun,” Sheehan said, “but I don't play anything if it isn't to win.”