All-star football game doubles its pleasure
But Saturday’s 33rd edition, which showcases the finest high school football talent in the state, takes on a new twist.
Instead of one game pitting the North against the South, there will be two games played at Titan Stadium in Oshkosh.
In the 2 p.m. game, Divisions 4-5-6-7 will be represented.
Members of the South Division 4-5-6-7 team will be Evansville’s Derek Cashore, Andrew Keister and Tucker Johnson, Brodhead/Juda’s Beau Benner and Walworth Big Foot’s Matt Fogerty. Big Foot’s Rodney Wedig and Brodhead/Juda’s Jim Matthys are assistant coaches for the South team.
In the Division 1-2-3 clash at 7 p.m., Janesville Craig’s JoJo Pregont and Mike Valentine, Janesville Parker’s LaVell Hewlett, and Milton’s Ethan Bachinski will suit up for the South team.
Although adding a second game allows at least 90 more players to participate, it also denies someone like Benner, who was a 2009 Juda High School graduate, from getting a chance to mix it up with the big boys from schools such as Stevens Points (SPASH), D.C. Everest or Marshfield. Juda High School has a listed enrollment of 91 students compared to 2,414 at SPASH.
“It would’ve been fun to see how we compare with the guys from the upper division schools,” Benner said. “But you also have to remember that some of us guys from the smaller schools might not have gotten a chance to play if it there weren’t two games.”
Fogerty has seen plenty of talent during practices this week at Perkins Stadium, which includes the Division 1-2-3 South team, and knows that at the Division 1, 2 and 3 schools, size is the biggest difference.
“Someone playing my position (linebacker) on that team might have 20 to 25 pounds on me,” said Fogerty, who is a chiseled 5-foot-10, 190 pounds.
“I’m just really excited to get the opportunity to play in the all-star game, and it really doesn’t matter to me that we’re not going to play against all the best kids in the state.”
As coaches, Wedig and Matthys were both in favor of opening up the format to two games.
The most obvious reason was because it allowed many more players from smaller schools the opportunity to showcase their skills, and possibly, get a chance to get a look at the collegiate level.
Wedig is a staunch supporter of the two-game system.
“You take a kid from our roster like a Lee Vlasak from Pecatonica-Argyle or a Garrett Porter from Montello-Princeton, and in years past, they probably wouldn’t have even gotten a look when it came time to picking the all-star rosters,” Wedig said. “And not because they’re not good players, but because the perception that is out there of the competition they play against.
“Usually, the kids from the D5, D6 and D7 schools were very limited when it came to this game.
“Now they’re getting a chance to play at a high level in a very collegiate-like atmosphere.”
A chance for 90 quality football players to prove that they belong on the same field as the big boys.