INDIANAPOLIS — It could not have ended any other way.
There was Mt. Vernon’s Andy Spears, leading with his voice and by example, his black and gold helmet smack in the middle of a pregame pump-up huddle. And there was Eastern Hancock’s Jake Hicks, pancaking defender after defender in a downhill rushing offense.
Friday night at North Central High School in the Grange Insurance/Indiana Football Coaches Association North-South All-Star Classic, the South handled the North 27-6 for its third straight victory in the series, which sent Hancock County’s two representatives home victorious in their final prep football game.
MV head coach Doug Armstrong and one of top lieutenants, Jim Leisure, were coaches on the South team.
Eight months had passed since their respective seasons’ ended, but both Spears and Hicks — in addition to their South teammates — were well-conditioned and well-prepared for Friday’s tussle.
“It felt real good, real good. It brought back memories of ‘Friday Night Lights,’” said Spears when asked about how it felt to be back on the gridiron after a long layoff. He then came to terms with his own high school football mortality. “It was bittersweet being the last time.”
For Hicks, the triumph validated the South’s grueling week of practice, which included three-a-days, five full-pad practices and five half-pad practices.
“(The North) had only one full-pad practice,” offered Hicks, who started at right tackle. “We worked and felt dead during the week and went, ‘They’re only practicing this much?’ We just worked harder and gave everything we had.”
The South outgained the North by 129 yards and the team’s five ball-carriers — often running in the paths cleared by Hicks — combined for 227 yards, nine more than the North’s total offensive ouput.