With only seven-and-a-half hours of practice during a brutally hot week, the defenses had the upper hand on Friday night in the 22nd annual Regional All-Star football game.
Points were tough to come by in the exhibition game featuring recently graduated high school standouts at Perrysburg Junior High School. The Black team forced three turnovers and emerged with a 17-7 win at Steinecker Stadium.
Swanton's Casey McCaw came up with a fumble recovery and returned an interception for a touchdown for the Black team.
With his Black team up 10-7 early in the fourth quarter, McCaw picked off a desperation heave by Gold quarterback Jake Schneider from the end zone and took in from 3 yards out for a 17-7 lead with 10 minutes, 6 seconds left.
"I was going crazy. I barely knew what to do," McCaw said. "They were pushing him to the ground and he threw it up there and that was just an amazing feeling."
Waite wide receiver DeVonte Hughes was named the Black team's MVP. Hughes, who finished with two catches for 45 yards, scored his team's only offensive touchdown. Hughes hauled in a 30-yard strike from Napoleon's Jacob Plassman to give his team a 10-0 lead just before halftime.
"He's a good quarterback, and he saw me raise my hand," Hughes said. "I'm happy he threw it to me. It was great. This feels so good. It's something to remember. I'm grateful."
St. Francis de Sales kicker Michael McGowen nailed a 39-yard field goal early in the second quarter for the Black team.
The game was played in nearly perfect conditions with low humidity, which was in direct contrast to the days leading up to the 22nd annual event.
Former longtime Rossford coach Tom Ferguson headed up the Black team along with nine other retired coaches.
Ferguson said one of the benefits of the contest, which is the last game many of the players will participate in, is the bringing of former rivals together.
"This game means an awful lot to these guys," Ferguson said. "All week long they developed a lot of friendships. They got rid of the hatred they had before and bonded as brothers. To see what these guys did after seven and a half hours in the heat is quite remarkable."
The Gold team got its only touchdown when Schneider, the elusive quarterback from Maumee, scored on a 9-yard run.
Schneider set up the score early in the third quarter with a 47-yard scamper, the longest of the game. His former Maumee teammate, Brandon Phenix, also had a 15-yard run on the drive.
Perrysburg's Alex Morse, a linebacker, was named MVP for the Gold team, which was led by former coaches from Toledo Christian and Bryan.
McCaw, who earned All-Northwest Ohio Athletic Conference second team honors last fall, recovered a fumble at the Gold 34 to set up the first points of the game.
McCaw said it was the last time he will play football.
"I'm sure it will hit me when I get home but this was awesome," McCaw said. "I came together with all these guys I've hated over the years. I have a whole new group of friends."
Hughes, who will play at Adrian College, was among a group of players that will continue their careers at the next level. Hughes, who also had a sack, was first team All-City League.
"This prepares me in a lot of ways," said Hughes, who also had a sack. "It's was great meeting different people and it's a new environment. This should help me."
Jalen Dunbar, of Bowsher, had two sacks for the Gold team. Central Catholic's Jim Johnston recovered a fumble for the Black team, which had five tackles for loss.
"Our defense was like that all week," Ferguson said. "Our offense couldn't run anything against them."
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.