For one week every summer for nearly two decades, the Perrysburg athletic boosters have made playing football in July a tradition in northwest Ohio.
The annual regional all-star football game starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday. It will be at Whitmer for the second straight year after being held at Springfield in 2007.
The change in location from Perrysburg was necessary because the Yellow Jackets' home field, Steinecker Stadium, is receiving a complete overhaul, including an artificial playing surface, and is not expected to be ready for use until Aug. 21.
"It's actually worked out pretty nice for us because both schools have been pretty accommodating in the past," Perrysburg athletic director Ray Pohlman said.
Pohlman said the need for a different venue has not stopped the boosters from keeping the game alive.
"To get 19 years in, that's pretty strong because there's a lot of work that goes into it," Pohlman said.
Three members of Division II state champion Southview are expected to play. Standout quarterback Alex Pidcock along with linemen T.J. Gibbs and Jim McMahon will lead the Black squad after helping the Cougars to a perfect 15-0 season.
Start's Troy Bell, Delta's Korbin Smith and Genoa's Marcus Vicars are scheduled to lead the Gold squad.
Pidcock, a 6-2, 210-pound signal caller, will be a walk-on at Bowling Green State University in the fall. He passed for 1,723 yards while completing 79 of 106 passes during his senior season. He also gained 895 yards on 103 carries, including 15 rushing touchdowns.
Vicars (6-2, 210) was a top defensive player for the Comets, recording 130 tackles, including 18 for loss with six quarterback sacks.
The teams, which consist of approximately 35 players, started practicing yesterday at Perrysburg Junior High.
The Gold squad will be led by Evergreen coach Todd Thieken and Gibsonburg coach Matt Harp and members of their respective staffs. A group of retired coaches, including Tom Ferguson of Rossford and Tom Snook of Whitmer, will be in charge of the Black squad for the third year in a row.
Pohlman said the mid-summer contest has never had an issue finding enough recent high school graduates interested in representing their high schools one final time.
"Every year you select about 40 players with five alternates to start with," he said. "We have always fielded teams of 35 players or more."
Each year the players are greeted by a special guest - usually a college football coach - to speak with them about football and life after high school. Past speakers included Ohio State's two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, former Notre Dame coach Jerry Faust and former Bowling Green and current Florida coach Urban Meyer.
Ohio State University assistant coach Dick Tressel, brother of Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel, is scheduled to speak with the teams before today's practice.
"We do this because we want to bring in somebody who is different from their high school coaches to tell them about doing the right thing, being accountable and being responsible before going off to college," Pohlman said.
Proceeds from the contest, which has averaged about $6,000 annually, are used to support Yellow Jackets athletics.
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