By Jay Seaton
It was a beautiful night for football at John Carroll University on Friday, and the Cuyahoga County football All-Stars did not disappoint. In the 40th annual Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Cuyahoga County East-West High School All-Star Scholarship Football Game, the East squad defeated the West 37-19. However the West showed great poise by sparking a late-game comeback.
Both teams were comprised of some of the county’s best football players, and their talents shone brightly under the lights at Don Shula Stadium.
The East squad was led by Shaker Heights quarterback Connor Hall. Hall started his team off fast with a long run on a quarterback sneak play on the first drive of the game. The drive was capped off by a short run into the end zone by tailback Tim Harrison, from Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School. From then on, the East team never looked back. Hall finished the game with three passing touchdowns and earned MVP honors for his team.
Although the West squad faced a large deficit nearing the end of the third quarter, it managed to mount a comeback, scoring 16 unanswered points. The West team’s head coach, Joe Zombek of Lakewood High School, was more focused on the positive experience for the players than the scoreboard.
“I wanted the guys to have the opportunity to make some plays tonight and make some memories for themselves,” he said.
Leading the West squad back into the game was running back Kahari Dickson from Cleveland Central Catholic. Dickson earned MVP honors for the West squad.
The West All-Star team had been preparing, with practices several weeks prior to the game. Zombek tried to keep things fairly easy for the players, having come from different schools and different styles of play.
“We tried to be as simple as possible on offense and defense,” he said. “The credit goes to the kids, because they made it easy on me. They were very coachable.”
North Olmsted senior running back and one of the West squad’s captains, Marc Remy, was sad to see his high school career come to an end, but was also very happy with his experience.
“It’s too bad we couldn’t come up with a win,” Remy said. “However, it was a great experience getting to play with some of the best players in the area.”
Remy will be continuing his football career at The University of Toledo.
Another player who saw his high school football career come to an end was Olmsted Falls senior lineman, Mike Sauvey. Sauvey enjoyed the opportunity to play alongside some of his former opponents.
“I’ve been playing against some of these kids since the seventh grade, and it was just a real honor to play with them for this special event,” Sauvey said.
Contributing members to the West All-Star team also included Tim Altieri (Bay), Wayne Majcher (Lakewood), Larry Oldenburg (Lutheran West), Kyle Perkins (Westlake), John Haney (Fairview), Pat Moran (North Olmsted), Eric Oster (Rocky River), Nolan Brandt (Olmsted Falls), John Doherty (Fairview), Sie Doe (Lakewood) and Aturo Morgan (Lakewood).
Zombek began his coaching career at the College of Wooster in 2001 as a volunteer assistant. He then served as an assistant freshman coach at Holy Name High School from 2002-03 before becoming the varsity offensive line coach in 2004. He continued his coaching career at Rocky River High School, where he was the defensive backs coach from 2005-07, and the special teams coordinator from 2006-07. Currently he is in his fourth year as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for head coach Ron Lewis at Lakewood.
The West squad also had an honorary coach in high school coaching veteran Bill McCleave. With 19 years as the head coach at Valley Forge High School and assistant coaching stops at Normandy, Independence and most recently Rocky River, he brought an impressive resume to this year’s game.