Brenden Knopp pulled on his Delta High School football helmet one last time under the lights on Friday night and ended his career in perfectly scripted fashion.
Knopp intercepted two passes and nearly had another in an exhibition game dominated by his team’s defense. The defensive back earned MVP honors and led the Gold team to a 21-8 victory in the 23rd annual Northwest Ohio Regional All-Star Football at Steinecker Stadium in Perrysburg.
Knopp’s Gold team forced six turnovers, including four in the first half as it built a 13-point lead. All of the points were scored in the first half of the game that started under hot and humid conditions and was then called because of lightning with 2:57 remaining.
“It’s huge because I’m not going to college to play football and to come out here and play my last game and win the MVP with two interceptions is amazing,” Knopp said. “The picks gave us momentum and we put the ball in the end zone. I’m glad I got the opportunity to play.”
Gold coach John Miller, a former coach at Toledo Christian, said the recently graduated standouts enjoyed the week of practice despite oppressive weather conditions. He said Knopp’s performance perfectly exemplified the purpose of the game.
“That is what this is all about to give most of these kids one more opportunity to play football, the game that they love. For those that are moving on it is a prep for them for the next step,” he said. “It was a great week with great camaraderie.”
Knopp’s Delta teammate Ryan Vaughn recovered a fumble in the second quarter forced by Rossford’s Michael Welch. Three plays later the Gold team took the lead for good on a 10-yard TD pass from Toledo Christian’s Josh Winzeler to Waite’s Cyrron Barringer that gave the team a 14-8 lead in the second quarter.
Barringer finished with a game-high five catches for 35 yards.
“I had to play my best and whatever happens, happens. This was the best it could be,” Barringer said. “We played as a team. We practiced hard in the hot weather for four days. And we came out with the W. It was tough. We did a lot of hitting.”
At kickoff it was 92 degrees in full sunshine but a 10 mile-per-hour breeze provided just enough relief. Miller said he had 35 players dressed with only one sub available at each position.
“I was a little concerned with the heat. But our guys kept themselves hydrated,” Miller said. “The heat this week was close to unbearable. But tonight with the breeze, it felt cooler.”
Knopp, who will attend Owens Community College, said he was prepared for the difficult conditions.
Barringer will be playing at Defiance College.
“This is getting me ready for the next level. This got me back in shape. It had been a long time since last season,” Barringer said.
Barringer’s 15-yard reception from Bowling Green quarterback Andrew Dennis helped set up a seven-yard TD rush by Maumee's Andrew Schultz. The Gold pulled within a point, 8-7, on Schultz's rush. He finished with 22 yards.
The Black took the initial lead with a seven play, 73-yard drive. Southview's Jovan Palin finished the drive with a four-yard TD run. Napoleon quarterback David Yunker connected with Bryan’s Elijah Bogosian for the two-point conversion and a 8-7 Black team lead.
But the Gold defense then ended four straight Black possessions by forcing turnovers for 14 unanswered points.
Ifiok Umoh of St. John's came up with an interception and two plays later Dennis scored on a QB sneak for a 21-8 Gold lead. Scott's Bryan Pinkney had a pick in the third quarter. Walter Pippin of Liberty Center recovered a fumble with the Black team driving late and the game was then called.
The Black team forced two fumbles, recovered by Archbold's Dylan Lantz and Byan's Blake Yunker. The Black team MVP was Matthew Mangum, a defensive back from Start.
Miller earned a measure of revenge against his former coach Tom Ferguson, who headed up the Black team.
Ferguson, who coached Miller at Rossford, had lost 17-7 to the Black team last season.
“It's bragging rights for a year,” Miller said. “But I love playing against the coach and to have the opportunity to line up across the field from him. He's a great friend and mentor.”