Perfect storm

INDIANAPOLIS — If there wasn’t a blueprint for beating a Kyle Ralph coached football team before, there is now.

The only problem, though, is it requires a perfect storm — and a running clock.

With severe weather sweeping the central Indiana area Friday night, lightning strikes overhead and in the distance delayed the 49th Annual Community Chrysler North-South All-Star Game at North Central High School for nearly three hours.

Once the disruptive system moved out, however, coach Ralph’s South All-Stars faced more than a determined North squad, looking to halt their intrastate rival’s four-game winning streak in the series.

They had to beat the clock.

With the opening kickoff pushed back from its originally scheduled 7 p.m. to 9:53 p.m., game officials eliminated nearly all clock stoppage with 12-minute quarters and no halftime. The game finished in less than an hour and 30 minutes.

“It was a bizarre situation, that’s for sure,” the New Palestine head coach remarked after his South All-Stars lost 20-7. “It changes things. We had to burn our timeouts real early and in different situations. It’s tough, but I’m just happy this game got played and these kids could come out here one more time and play this great game. That’s what it’s all about.”

The game appeared in jeopardy initially. Lightning and heavy rainfall during warm ups forced both teams indoors as officials followed the National Federation of State High Schools Association’s 30-minute lightning guidelines.

Both teams came out to get loose just prior to 9 p.m., but again the conditions postponed the game, which had to be played on Friday night.

Throughout the week, players roomed at the University of Indianapolis. Unable to return to the dormitories for an additional night, the options were to wait out the weather or cancel the event for the first time in its history.

“It was not easy, that’s for sure. I give credit to both teams,” Ralph said. “Those kids stayed really focused. I give a lot of credit to the IFCA (Indiana Football Coaches Association) officials, who held onto this game and kept pushing to make sure this thing happened.

“It would have been a real shame for both teams to have them work so hard all week, and then to have the game cancelled because we can’t play it on Saturday. That would have been a travesty.”

Once the game started, the North All-Stars’ recent misfortunes in the annual showcase turned into victory.

Scoring the game’s first touchdown on a two-play drive in the first quarter, quarterback Jake Paliga (Andrean/Valparaiso) connected with Jerrell Poindexter (Concord/Naval Academy) for a 34-yard touchdown.

The North was handed a short field with only 1:10 gone off the clock after South’s Malik Higgins (Evansville Reitz/University of Indianapolis) fumbled on a 9-yard run at the 34-yard line.

“It hurt obviously. You don’t want to turn the football over,” Ralph said. “You can’t turn the ball over in an all-star game to a team like that. We did it a couple of times, but it happens in these types of games. You’re not really fresh, you’re trying to learn each other and mistakes happen.”

The South answered, however, on their ensuing drive with a 12-play series, spanning 79 yards in 7:06.

Dorian Tate (Ben Davis/Indiana State) capped the possession with an 8-yard rushing touchdown followed by a successful extra-point attempt by Mt. Vernon’s Logan Justus to tied the game 7-7 in the first quarter.

The drive nearly stalled twice on fourth down, but a 4-yard run by quarterback Bryce Stancombe (Bloomington South/University of Indianapolis) and a 16-yard completion to Noah Grable (New Palestine/Marian University) kept the chains moving.

“During the week, I was having a little bit of trouble catching the ball. I hadn’t caught a ball since last fall, but I got a good warm up in,” said Grable, a two-way standout for New Palestine last fall. “My routes started to work better, and I sort of went right back into last season. It all came together easy once Bryce and I got on the same page.”

Grable, who ended his high school career as New Palestine’s all-time career sack leader with 30, finished with two catches and 42 yards for the South.

Projected to contend for time on defense at Marian University, Grable was named Indiana Mr. Football position award for defensive end as a senior.

Stancombe led the South’s passing attack with 64 yards on five completions and an interception. Tate was named the team’s most valuable player.

The game’s Tyler W. Roth Most Valuable Player Award was given to Poindexter, who followed up his touchdown catch with a crucial 35-yard punt return in the fourth quarter to set up another scoring drive.

The North rattled off 13-unanswered points to break the tie, finding the end zone in every quarter but one.

“The rain made it weird, but we had a lot of fun this week. It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but everyone had a a good time. We all made a lot of friendships,” said South defensive lineman Lucas Rice (Mt. Vernon/University of Indianapolis). “It was positive. I’ll definitely remember this a lot.”

Since 1967, the South team has won 27 of the annual event’s 48 prior meetings, including the inaugural North-South All-Star Game, 15-14.

The South won the past four games with defensive consistency. Holding the North to seven points or less all four years, the South previously outscored their foes 86-22.

Last year, the North was limited to its third-lowest point total in series history as the South was victorious 30-2. This time, though, the North turned the tables, handing coach Ralph only his second career loss as a head coach.

Ralph is 28-1 at New Palestine with a Class 4A state title to his credit. Last summer, he steered the East to a dominating 56-17 victory against the West in the annual Hall of Fame Classic in Anderson.

Ralph is the third New Palestine coach to be selected to lead a team in the All-Star Classic. The first was Marvin Shepler in 1991 for the North. Tim Able was named the head coach of the 2010 South team.

“I’m going to take away the fact that I was very fortunate to work with a tremendous group of young men,” Ralph said. “For me, it was a great sense of pride to even be chosen for this. To get a group of kids this good and that work so well together and interact so well … it gives me a lot of confidence and faith in the future of football in this state, the programs in the state and the country if we have groups of kids like this coming up.”

Notes

Koby Orris (Fishers High School/University of Indianapolis) was named the 2015 Michael J. Rabold Distinguished Player Award winner. Previous winners include: Jay Cutler, Courtney Roby, Jeff Samardzija, Rick Mirer, Rosevelt Colvin, Rod Woodson, David Duerson, among others. … Megan Mannering (Lewis Cass) and Drew Shayotovich (Avon) were named the recipients of the Hub Etchison Scholarship Award. … Southport’s Cardell Tucker (St. Joseph’s) and Norwell’s Piercen Harnish (St. Francis) received the Ralph Everman Award. In 2014, New Palestine’s Blake Luker won the award for the South All-Stars. … The paid attendance for the game was 3,365.

Scoreline

49th Annual Community Chrysler North-South All-Star Classic

North All-Stars 7;7;0;6;-20

South All-Stars 7;0;0;0;-7

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter

N — Jerrell Poindexter 34-yd pass from Jake Paliga (Matt Plesac kick), 10:45.

S — Dorian Tate 8-yd run (Logan Justus kick), 3:13

2nd Quarter

N — Joel Spegal 1-yd run (Plesac kick), 9:36

4th Quarter

N — Keion Powers 5-yd run (kick failed), 7:14

North-South All-Star Facts

Hancock County all-time head coaches

2015 — Kyle Ralph, New Palestine (South All-Stars)

• Result: North wins 20-7.

2010 — Tim Able, New Palestine (South All-Stars)

• Result: North wins 24-21.

1991 — Marvin Shepler, New Palestine (North All-Stars)

• Result: North wins 17-12.

1974 — Clayton Meyers, Greenfield-Central (South All-Stars)

• Result: South wins 4-3.

Who does the game benefit?

• From 1967-72 proceeds from the North-South All-Star Game went to support the Boys Club of Indiana.

• Beginning in 1973, the game’s beneficiary became Camp Riley, a event hosted by Riley Hospital for Children. This continued until 1983.

• The Shriners Hospital was the direct beneficiary from 1986-89.

• In 1990, the game beneficiaries became Camp Riley and the Indiana Football Hall of Fame. This remains the same to this day.

Why is the game’s MVP trophy named after Tyler W. Roth?

The Tyler W. Roth Most Valuable Player Award is named in the memory of Tyler Roth from Winamac Community High School. 

Roth was a member of the 2001 North All-Star team but tragically lost his life 34 hours after an accident on his way home from a summer job. Roth was to play football at Earlham College. 

While at Winamac, Roth earned 10 varsity letters in four sports. He was the Midwest Conference and Loganland Player of the Year in 2000. Plus, he was an all-area and all-conference player for two years.

He served as student body president.

How the series has played out over the years

• The South All-Stars lead the all-time series 27-22.

• Prior to 2015, the South All-Stars had won four consecutive meetings against the North All-Stars.

• The South All-Stars own the two longest winning streaks in series history at four straight (1997-2000 and 2011-14).

• Each team has had runs of three-consecutive wins. The North achieved the feat first from 1969-71. The South matched the North from 1974-76.

• There has only been one overtime game in series history. In 1974, the South defeated the North 4-3 to tie the all-time series at 4-4.

• There have been two shutouts overall. The South blanked the North 32-0 in 1972. The North returned the favor with a 14-0 win in 1996.

• The largest margin of victory in the series occurred in 1989 when the North won 41-6. This also marked the highest point total amassed in series history.

• The game has been decided by one point on three different occasions. The first was in the game’s inaugural year (1967) as the South prevailed 15-14. The most recent was in 1999 when the South won 14-13.

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Rich Torres is sports editor at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at rtorres@greenfieldreporter.com or 317-477-3227.