Nick Samar views tonight's football game as a prelude to training camp, while Dan Amato sees it as his last opportunity to take a snap from center.
Samar, a recent graduate of Swanton High, will soon be off to play guard for Eastern Kentucky University. Amato, who was the starting quarterback for three years at Central Catholic, will attempt to walk on as a punter and kicker at Notre Dame.
But first both will appear along with 78 other standout athletes from 50 area high schools in the 15th annual Regional All-Star Football Game tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Steinecker Stadium in Perrysburg.
Samar, a 6-foot-4, 310-pounder, said the week-long football camp that led up to tonight's contest has helped him get into shape for when he reports to Eastern Kentucky on July 25.
"To me this is another step to make myself better before I go down there and play," Samar said. "This is a big advantage to play in this to get myself in better condition and back in the mode of hitting again."
Samar said his arms, elbows and knees have all been sore after not having played since last fall.
"I'm feeling it a lot right now," he said. "So I'm glad that it is happening to me now. That way when I get down with the big boys, I'll be ready to get knocked around a lot more."
While Amato threw for 3,606 yards and 30 touchdowns at Central, he will attempt to continue kicking at another school with an Irish mascot.
"This is my last time playing quarterback. I've been playing quarterback since CYO days and this is my last time. So this is special," Amato said.
Amato also will be handling the punting and kicking duties for the Black team tonight. His career average was 41.2 yards per punt and he connected on 16 of 23 field goal attempts with a long of 44 yards.
"I'm going [to Notre Dame] for school and I'll see what else is going to happen there," Amato said. "But I'm just out here having fun, meeting some new guys. Hopefully we'll play together as a team and everything works out and no one gets hurt."
Samar agreed with Amato, saying he believed his Black squad came together quickly.
"Most of these offensive linemen I don't even know. But we've been hootin' and hollerin' and we know we are about to have a good time [tonight]," he said.
Samar said he hopes his high school career ends on a winning note because Swanton went winless last fall.
"We didn't win any football games this year, but no matter what I still have pride for Swanton," said Samar, who proudly displayed a tattoo of a Bulldog, the school's mascot, on his arm. "No matter where I go I'll have pride in where I'm from."
Most of Samar's teammates and opponents will be playing in their last football games and will represent their high schools for the last time. But about 25 will go on to play at the college level, many for Division II and III schools.
Samar was heavily recruited by D-I schools, including the University of Toledo, starting when he was a junior.
"That's when I started getting a whole lot of mail. I had a lot of big colleges who were interested," he said. "I went to a few camps and I ended up going to Cincinnati, Toledo and Eastern Kentucky. It was between those three and I went down there to Eastern Kentucky and they offered me."