LEXINGTON — Jared Schaefer and Caden Flynn didn’t practice the play during the week, but it wasn’t completely without precedent.
The Clear Fork teammates hooked up on a 59 yard scoring strike late in the first quarter as the South all-stars raced out to an insurmountable first-half lead and cruised to a 46-32 win over the North stars in the North Central Ohio Football Coaches Association All-Star Classic at Lexington High School on Friday.
The South was already leading 6-0 when Schaefer spotted Flynn streaking down the near sideline. Schaefer’s pass glanced off the helmet of a North defender and into the waiting arms of Flynn, who took it the rest of the way for a 12-0 lead.
“That actually happened Week 10 (last fall) at Marion Harding,” said Schaefer, who was voted the game’s Offensive Most Valuable Player. “It didn’t bounce off, but he actually caught it off the kids helmet. That’s twice now that that has happened.”
The Schaefer-to-Flynn TD was the second of three unorthodox scores the South used to build a 26-0 halftime lead. The first came when Lucas running back Jeb Grover hauled in a halfback pass from East Knox’s Kasson Krownapple for a 46-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter. Grover found himself all alone behind the North secondary.
“I was running and it started floating,” said Grover, Lucas’ career rushing leader who is headed to Ashland University. “Luckily I caught it.”
The South pushed the lead to 19-0 when Ontario linebacker Noah Creed intercepted a pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown with 12:43 left in the second. Grover capped the first-half scoring when he darted into the end zone from 7 yards out to make it 26-0 with 5:17 remaining in the half.
“The guys really buckled down in the trenches and in the backfield running the ball,” said South coach Scott Spitler of Lucas. “They kind of got us revved up a little bit and we were able to put together a couple rushing drives for touchdowns.
“What that does is, people start getting nosy and then you’re able to take the top off with the speed we have at wide receiver.”
The North stars made things interesting in the second half. Bucyrus’ Harley Robinson-Koge got things going when he hauled in a 14 yard scoring strike from Brevin King with 9:20 remaining in the third to make it 26-7.
The South responded when Schaefer again found Flynn for a 42 yard TD with 5:14 to play in the third to make it 32-7. Flynn had two catches on the night and both went for scores.
“I give a lot of credit to (Schaefer),” Flynn said. “If he doesn’t throw the ball the way he did, I wouldn’t be in the position I was in.”
The North cut the South lead to 32-13 on a 21 yard pass from Blaine Swartzmiller to Blake Sparks with 2:53 left in the third. A 5 yard TD run by Norwalk’s Trevon Raymore made it 32-20 late in the third.
Schaefer tossed his third and final TD pass of the evening early in the fourth, finding Krownapple for a 36-yarder to make it 39-20.
A 5-yard TD run by the North’s Swartzmiller made it 39-26 with 9:42 remaining, but Krownapple scored on a 54 yard run to make it 46-26 with 2:11 to play. Raymore scored on a 60 catch-and-run with 1:56 to go to make it 46-32 and had a chance to cut into the lead further before South linebacker Brice Swindall sealed it with an interception near the South goal line with 25 seconds remaining.
“Our guys were extremely focused all week. They had great attitudes and were so coachable,” Spitler said. “There’s a reason why they were picked to be in the all-star game. They are the top of the top from the area and we just had a blast.”