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With just eight hours of total practice leading up to Friday night’s all-star game, it certainly wasn’t surprising that a defensive stalemate ensued for nearly three quarters.
The Gold and Black teams competing in the Northwest Ohio Regional All-Star Football game fought to a scoreless deadlock until the waning moments of the third quarter. That was when Black team MVP David Nees, a quarterback from St. Francis de Sales, led his team to the first score of the game.
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The Black team’s defense then forced a fumble in the Gold end zone for another score and emerged with a 14-6 victory. A crowd of about 2,000 attended the all-star game at Perrysburg’s Steinecker Stadium that featured 73 recently graduated players from area schools.
Nees, who will play quarterback at Washington University in St. Louis, led his team on a 74-yard drive. Nees threw a 21-yard pass to Navada Parker of Springfield, rushed for 53 yards on the drive, and scored on a 23-yard quarterback draw with eight seconds left in the quarter.
“We just needed a momentum kick,” Nees said. “Our guys finally came together on a drive. That was great. It was a boost of energy. Our defense kept us in the game. I'm really proud of our guys.”
The Black team went up 14-0 when Logan Ziegler of Patrick Henry came up with the hit of the night. Ziegler blasted a Gold runner on an option pitch, and the ball bounced into the end zone where Austin Zachrich of Ayersville recovered it for a touchdown with just over seven minutes left.
Neither team scored for the first 35 minutes. Former longtime Rossford coach Tom Ferguson, who led the Black team, said it wasn’t surprising to see the defense control the majority of play.
“You have to put in everything in about eight and a half hours [during the week of practice],” Ferguson. “These kids stayed focused and wanted to learn. The defense is always ahead of the offense [to start a season]. It takes maybe a week and a half before the offense can catch up.”
The teams combined for 20 points in a span of 8:30.
Gold quarterback Kaleb Pohlman, who was named his team’s MVP, engineered a 63-yard drive for a score. The Liberty Center graduate completed six passes on the march, including a 47-yarder to Nick Kairys of Findlay. Pohlman capped it with a six-yard TD strike to Anthony Righi, who played with him at Liberty Center, that made it 14-6 with 3 minutes, 40 seconds left.
Pohlman, who will play linebacker at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, then drove his team into the red zone in a minute and a half. His pass with no time left tipped off of Isaih Arriaga’s hands in the end zone.
Pohlman said the MVP award meant a lot to him. Pohlman, who was listed as a linebacker on the Gold team's roster, did not get to throw much in high school. Liberty Center ran the Wing T, and Pohlman said he only threw the ball about five times per game.
“The first day of practice, they asked if anyone could play quarterback and I said I could do it,” Pohlman said. “It’s a good reward to get after putting four years of hard work in.”
Holgate’s Jacob Clark had a sack and a fumble recovery for the Black. Ryan Roberts of Central Catholic and Avion Boyd of Start also recovered fumbles, while Jacob Lapoint of Whitmer had a sack for the Black team.
Perrysburg’s Kadin Llewellyn had two sacks in his final game on his home field for the Gold. Noah Asmus of Rossford had an interception for the Gold. Keon Rayford of Rogers, Seven Johnson of Bowsher, and Jacob Auld of Gibsonburg each had sacks for the Gold under near perfect playing conditions.
“This is like football season right now,” Ferguson said. “You don’t get football nights as nice as this. It was a good crowd. And winning was outstanding. That is what we work for. But I take my hat off to them, they stuck in it right to the end.”