Stow senior Brian Groves lived up to his “Slash” nickname once again Thursday.
Groves, who lines up as a wide receiver, running back, quarterback, defensive back and returner on punts and kicks, added the role of kicker in the Thanks4Giving All-Star Football Game at St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron.
A crowd of around 1,800 braved snow and below-freezing temperatures to watch Groves shine on John Cistone Field at Green Street Stadium on Thanksgiving morning.
Groves rushed for a touchdown, passed for a touchdown and kicked two extra points to lead the East to a 21-13 win over the West in a game featuring Summit County seniors.
“I was really hyped to play today,” Groves said. “There have been so many people before us who have played here and there is so much tradition in playing on Thanksgiving Day.
“It was fun and cool playing with people you have played against all year. Guys from Hudson, we got to be friends with them and got to have a good time out there together.”
The East took a 7-0 lead on its opening drive of the first quarter on Groves’ 10-yard touchdown run and an extra-point kick by Hudson’s Tom Bevan.
CVCA’s Andrew Schauer rushed for a 21-yard touchdown and Groves kicked the point after to make it 14-0 in the third quarter.
The West made it 14-7 in the third quarter on a 6-yard touchdown pass by Copley’s John Kromalic to Buchtel’s Chris Davis, and a point-after touchdown kick by Copley’s Austin Finley.
Kromalic and Davis connected for another touchdown, but this one was more exciting as it went for 91 yards at 10:54 in the fourth quarter.
“This was a little different after playing quarterback for three years straight,” Davis said. “Being able to use my athleticism and show off my speed was awesome.”
Kromalic started the play by dropping back to pass and then scrambling to his left and tossing an off-balance pass to Davis, who flashed his speed to pull away from defenders for the score. The point after was missed and the East led 14-13.
“I pointed for Chris to go deep,” Kromalic said. “Our line protected me well and gave me five to six seconds in the pocket. That was amazing and then Chris made a great play.”
Groves connected with Twinsburg’s Tailin Johnson for a 20-yard touchdown on 4th-and-goal following a penalty with 3:40 to go in the fourth quarter and made the point after touchdown.
“This was a very good experience,” Johnson said. “I enjoyed representing my team and my school, and making plays.”
Groves was named East MVP. He finished with 61 rushing yards on 14 carries and completed 4-of-8 passes for 66 yards.
“I had not kicked a PAT in a varsity game,” Groves said. “I kicked my sophomore year on JV with some kickoffs, but nothing like this. We had two kickers get hurt today [Bevan and Springfield’s Zac Younkin], so I stepped up.”
Kromalic completed 14-of-25 passes for 252 yards. Archbishop Hoban’s Jake Tersigni had five catches for 101 yards and Davis had three catches for 99 yards.
“This is a memorable game for sure and the last game of my high school career,” Tersigni said. “It was a ton of fun. There was no stress and no worry.”
Hoban linebacker Vince Buzzi was named the West MVP.
“I can not wait to eat food,” Buzzi said. “I am so hungry, but I had a great time today. Playing in a game just makes me realize how much I love football.”
There were several nice moments off the field, too. Children who are or have been affected by cancer got to take part in a punt, pass and kick contest at halftime through the Camp Quality program, and a donation was made to the Native American Cultural Center and the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank following the game.
“Being a part of such a tradition makes a great impact on our staff and it is a good experience,” said East coach Kevin Vaughn of Springfield. “I enjoyed working with a great group of young men. They were outstanding all week. We had awesome practices and had a lot of fun. To come out and get the job done during the game is special.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.