Contrary to popular belief, Indiana’s high school football season does not end with the crowning of six state champions.
The official dispatch is eight months later, according to more than half a century of tradition.
On Friday, the annual North/South All-Star Classic was held at Ben Davis, a game that included four former Johnson County players on the South team.
The South All-Stars won 14-0, scoring all of their points in the first half and extending their series lead to 29-26.
Afterwards, players and coaches from both teams shook hands, exchanged hugs and even posed for photos. The game and everything that preceded it was over, but the stories of the last four days promise to last.
The North/South Classic is a whirlwind in which there are no losers. Being selected as an All-Star is a triumph in itself.
The time leading up to the match is spent making new friendships, exchanging helmet decals and yes, preparing for the game in the form of meetings and practices.
“It’s the ongoing representation of your program,” said Center Grove football coach Eric Moore, who watched two of his players, offensive lineman Jacob Newlin and defensive tackle Owen Green, Friday night. “We were lucky enough to have two children almost every year.
“It makes me feel good for these kids and their families that they will forever become an Indiana Star. Every child we had there had a great experience. You make lots of new friends and become teammates with players you’ve played against.
Lined up at right guard, the 6-foot-4, 285-pound Newlin didn’t compile any stats but helped some of his teammates do. The South rushed for 68 yards and passed for 252. Mt. Vernon quarterback Gehrig Slunaker was named the game’s most valuable player, completing 15 of 21 pass attempts for 158 yards and a pair of affected.
Defensively, Green also had his moments. He and Newlin will soon be participating in preseason practices for the University of Indianapolis.
Whiteland also fielded a pair of players, inside linebacker Daniel Adams and defensive back Quinn Warweg.
Although the names change over the years, Johnson County has had an impact on the series.
In 2011, Indian Creek quarterback Trey Reese was the game’s most valuable player; Collin Campbell of Greenwood was the recipient of the Hub Etchison Scholarship in 2021.
Whiteland coach Darrin Fisher appreciates the benefits of every level of his program, from varsity players to freshmen and sophomores participating in flag football.
“I think it’s a reward, not just for the young guy playing in the game, but for his class,” Fisher said. “All of their teammates are represented by Quinn Warweg and Daniel Adams. Everyone is proud of them. I just think it’s good for the whole program.
“All these kids, they dream of being a college football player. I think the All-Star Game is one of the best things we do. It represents every city and every region. It’s all levels. It has class A players, class 6A players and everything in between.
“That’s why I love the game.”