CUYAHOGA FALLS — The ninth annual Thanks4Giving All-Star Football Game on Thanksgiving Day featured a little bit of offense and a whole lot of defense.

Seniors from Buchtel, St. Vincent-St. Mary, Barberton and Revere figured prominently in the final outcome, a 14-13 victory for the West All-Stars over the East All-Stars on Thursday at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy.

With temperatures in the mid-20s, several players on defense feasted on turnovers in a game designed to raise money for charities and showcase top Summit County seniors.

“This was a fun game,” said Revere’s James Boyeas, who coached the West All-Star Team. “The No. 1 thing you see is all of the great talent in the county, which is awesome. There are a lot of different personalities and a lot of kids with different backgrounds — both on and off the field. To get a group of guys to try to come together after four practices was great. It was fun to see how hard they competed.”

The game also featured Josh Mitchell of Firestone and Josh Jones of St. V-M dancing on the field during a second-quarter timeout and an exciting finish. The East All-Stars, coached by Dan Larlham of CVCA, faced a 14-7 deficit when Noah Bishop of CVCA forced a fumble and Twinsburg’s Rashad Jones-Land and Gilbert Campbell pounced on the ball on the West 35-yard line with about two minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

Green quarterback Kage Williams proceeded to orchestrate a six-play drive that included two completed passes — one for 19 yards to Josh Junko of CVCA and another for a 4-yard touchdown to Walsh Jesuit’s Tevin Watkins with 13 seconds to go to make it 14-13.

The East Stars elected to go for the win by attempting a 2-point conversion, but West Stars safety Dalen Peeks of St. V-M tackled an East Stars ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage to preserve the one-point edge.

“They were in that one formation where I knew they were going to run that play,” Peeks said. “They were running that all game and had success, so I knew I had to make a play.”

The West Stars held the first offensive possession, but that drive lasted one play and ended when Brock Simmons of CVCA recovered a fumble for the East Stars on the West 3-yard line 19 seconds into the game.

Two plays later, Williams threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Mogadore’s Gavin Christy and Nordonia’s Evan Wiehe kicked the extra point to give the East Stars a 7-0 lead.

The West drew even at 7-7 when Russell Cooper III of St. V-M returned the ensuing kickoff 96 for a touchdown at 10:46, and Revere kicker Sam Webster made his first of two extra points.

“I went with the approach of ‘just be fast’ on the kickoff return,” said Cooper, who also had three carries for 47 yards. “When you see a cut or when you see a lane, it opens up fast so you have to run fast.”

The West Stars took the lead with three Buchtel players making big plays. Buchtel linebacker Devon Fox grabbed an interception on the East Stars 26-yard line with 10:32 remaining in the first quarter and, two plays later, Griffins quarterback Mychael Leno threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to open teammate Zayir Keen with 9:10 on the clock.

“I just read the play right for the interception and I was in the right place,” said Fox, who was named the West’s MVP. “I caught the ball and then these guys scored.”

Leno said Keen ran a “fade route between two safeties.” Keen said his thought when the ball was in the air was “I have to go get it. It is just me and I zone the defense out.”

As Leno, Keen and Fox spoke, Buchtel teammates Andrew “Chase” Powers, O’Rell Williams, Marquest Foster, Winford Dowdy Jr. and Marquest Jacobs were smiling for pictures in the background with family.

Williams rushed for 92 yards on 14 carries and had two receptions for 25 yards. Revere’s Matt Buser totaled 59 yards on 13 touches (nine carries, four receptions).

The West Stars defense totaled seven sacks. Fox, Powers, Coventry’s Kaleb Shank, Revere’s Carter Boggs, Barberton’s Gavin Krska and Revere’s Matt Grayem each had one sack, and Coventry’s Andrew Arnold and Barberton’s Jordon Hayden combined for one sack.

Additionally for the West Stars, Anthony Humphrey of Firestone forced a first-quarter fumble that was recovered by Ronald Williams of Woodridge.

Bishop, who was named the East Stars' MVP, had a forced fumble, an interception and a fumble recovery. The East Stars’ Jacob Gonzalez of Green also grabbed an interception, and Hudson’s Grant Gedeon recovered a fumble.

Kage Williams of Green completed 11-of-21 passes for 101 yards, and gained 62 yards on nine carries for the East Stars. CVCA’s Tre Tucker contributed 69 rushing yards on 13 carries, and had four catches for 27 yards.

 

Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or mbeaven@thebeaconjournal.com.