Woodridge senior football player John Reid smiled as he posed for pictures with teammates Thursday morning at St. Vincent-St. Mary.
Reid’s right ankle was throbbing in pain, but he was grinning because his team secured a victory and thoughts of eating turkey filled his mind.
Reid rushed for two touchdowns to help the West All-Stars defeat the East All-Stars 36-24 before nearly 3,000 in the Thanks4Giving All-Star Game on John Cistone Field at Green Street Stadium.
“It was really cool,” Reid said of playing amongst Summit County’s top seniors on a sunny day that featured a temperature that neared 60 degrees.
“I liked coming out here and playing on Thanksgiving Day. The fact that we get to go home and eat afterwards is fun. The whole atmosphere and playing with a bunch of guys who care about football and really want to be here was very nice.”
Reid opened the scoring on the West’s first drive after Woodridge’s Trevon Burgins intercepted a pass and ran 46 yards. Three plays later it was 6-0 on Reid’s 3-yard touchdown run with 9:22 to go in the first quarter.
The West upped its lead to 13-0 with 10:40 remaining in the second quarter when Cuyahoga Falls’ Joe Repasky scored on a 4-yard run.
The East cut its deficit to 13-3 with a 35-yard field goal by Nordonia’s Tyler Alders with 6:22 to go in the second quarter.
Reid pushed the West’s advantage to 20-3 with a 1-yard touchdown run 1:22 prior to halftime. Coventry’s Dillon Headrick rushed for 66 yards on five carries during the drive.
“This was awesome,” said Headrick, who gained 107 yards on 11 carries. “It was a great feeling to come out here and play with everybody. We had a lot of fun. Now, it’s time to eat some turkey.”
Before the turkey could be eaten though, there was a second half.
Archbishop Hoban’s Dominick Orsini rushed for a 32-yard touchdown that gave the West a 27-3 lead with 9:42 left in the third quarter.
“It was a blast playing with these guys,” Orsini said. “We worked hard and came out here and executed. We just played the game and it was a good time. I’m looking forward to going home because I know my mom has the turkey in the oven.”
The East scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull within 27-24 with 4:25 to go. Tallmadge’s Anthony Gotto rushed for a 2-yard touchdown, Blue Devils teammate Bryon Cook caught two long touchdown passes and Nordonia’s Ryan Bauer had three extra-point kicks. Alders connected with Cook on a 32-yard score and Hudson’s Tim Kennedy tossed a 70-yard touchdown to Cook.
The West responded quickly with an 8-yard touchdown run by Buchtel’s Jibreel Hazly, a point-after-kick by Woodridge’s Hunter Niswander and a safety.
“It was nice to have the honor of playing here today and to help feed 4,000 families is awesome,” Hazly said.
Buchtel’s Erron Cosey, Darnell Hubbard and Tye Graves swarmed an East ball carrier in the end zone to conclude the scoring with 2:38 to go.
“It was an honor to play with my brothers here for one last time,” Graves said. “I am proud to say we played in an all-star game. I will take this experience and remember this for the rest of my life.”
Garfield’s Garland Brandon and Devonte Stevenson were a few other standouts who played Thursday with Woodridge’s Tyler Freeman, Copley’s Larry Goodman, Buchtel’s Marnayre Drummond, Firestone’s Kevin Gladney and Green’s Christian DiLauro.
“I didn’t think I was going to be playing in this game until my coach told me he got a big letter,” Drummond said. “We just came out here and played our heart out for everybody and had fun.”
Green’s Seth Wieland gained 71 yards on 15 carries for the East and Kennedy finished with eight receptions for 99 yards.
“It is a great experience to play on Thanksgiving morning,” said Cuyahoga Falls coach Mike Miller, who guided the West.
“Growing up with my family, we always played football on Thanksgiving and enjoy the sport. Obviously, it is a tradition and is something that has been going on in Akron for a long time. To continue the tradition and give the kids one more opportunity to play football is special.”