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Enemies become friends in prep all-star game

07/14/2017, 7:25am EDT
By By MARK MONROE BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Local football standouts take part in 27th annual contest

Enemies become friends in NW Ohio all-star game

Former Woodward running back Marcellus Hunt believes playing for the Gold team in Friday night’s regional all-star football game is a golden opportunity.

Hunt, who led the City League in scoring and rushing last fall, is one of more than 100 recently graduated football standouts selected to play in the event. The 27th annual Northwest Ohio Regional All-Star Football Game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Steinecker Stadium in Perrysburg.

“It means a lot to me,” Hunt said. “There will be a lot of people who will fill the stands. It should feel good.”

The game features players from 43 schools from across northwest Ohio who have been separated into Black and Gold teams — Perrysburg's school colors.

Hunt said he is particularly looking forward to playing one final time on the Gold team with fellow Woodward teammates Sheldon Davis (defensive back/​wide receiver), Gnonn Caraway (defensive back), and Antonio Adams (lineman).

“It feels good to be coming together to play one last time with each other,” he said.

Hunt said he anticipates the competition to be fierce. “It’s a big game. I don’t like losing. I’m going to go 100 percent for the team,” Hunt said.

The Gold team will be led by John Miller, a former coach at Toledo Christian, along with other coaches from the area. 

The Black team will be run by Tom Ferguson, a retired coach with 35 years of experience, most notably at Rossford for 25 years. His staff will include other retired coaches from northwest Ohio.

The game attracts crowds of about 2,200 each summer. The players are nominated by their high school coaches.

Madison Jaso, a three-sport standout from Gibsonburg, will play running back and linebacker for the Black team.

“It feels good to be one of the only ones on my team to be picked,” Jaso said. “I’m going to try to go extra hard for this game.”

Jaso finished second in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference in rushing with 1,348 yards on 150 carries with 18 touchdowns. Jaso also won four straight league titles in wrestling. As a pitcher this past spring, he earned All-TAAC first-team honors when he went 4-0 with a 1.59 earned run average and hit .344 with 22 RBIs.

Jaso, who plans to walk on to the baseball team at the University of Toledo, said it was tough giving up wrestling and football. He said taking the field one last time with former teammates Ryan Clark (quarterback), Issac Arriaga (defensive back), and Alex Richards (running back/​linebacker) is extra special.

“It’s pretty nice to play with my teammates one last time,” he said.

In a twist, Jaso is now teammates with one of his biggest rivals on the wrestling mat. Elmwood senior Jace Grossman, who also is a linebacker and ​running back for the Black team, faced off against Jaso in the 182-pound consolation final at the Division III state tournament in March. Grossman defeated Jaso 4-3 to take third at state.

“There’s a rivalry there, but we can put it aside,” Jaso said. “I think it’s cool to get to know him.”

The players have practiced all week at Perrysburg Junior High as former rivals had to gel quickly.

“Now we’re becoming friends, so it’s kind of cool,” Jaso said. “It’s great to get to know some new people.”

Hunt, who scored 24 touchdowns and rushed for 1,503 yards on 151 carries for Woodward, said the all-star coaches came up with a basic playbook.

“We have to come together and work together as a team,” he said. “We haven’t played together and some of us played against each other. But we’re all getting along.”

The players exchanged helmet stickers with their school emblems. Many wear a collage of the logos on their helmets.

Hunt established a City League single-game rushing record with a remarkable 446 yards on 16 carries in a 58-29 opening night victory against visiting Cardinal Stritch. Hunt also scored five touchdowns.

Hunt, who earned All-CL and all-district first team honors, said he hopes to continue his playing career at Malone University, a Division II school near Canton, Ohio.

“There are a lot of little kids that look up to me,” he said. “There are a lot of people around me that are looking forward to me moving up in life to the next chapter.”

Contact Mark Monroe at mmonroe@theblade.com419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.

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Former Woodward running back Marcellus Hunt works out for the all-star football game on Friday. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH

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