By Ryan Kaczmarski
The Friday night lights turned to the first taste of what Saturday affairs on the gridiron will bring, as local student-athletes played in the Cuyahoga County East-West All-Star football game Saturday night at Baldwin Wallace University’s George Finnie Stadium.
The East squad ended up with a hard-fought 38-34 victory as the clock hit 0:00, but all the players on both sides of Tressel Field had plenty to be proud of. Shaker Heights quarterback Jimmie Pope secured the East MVP, completing 11 of 17 passes, for 118 yards and two touchdowns, while North Royalton wide receiver Nick Krempasky was chosen as the West MVP, hauling in five passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.
The Westshore area had 12 players on the West team, led by Lutheran West wide receiver Chris Ranc, who caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from North Royalton quarterback Travis Tarnowski to put the West up 14-0 late in the first quarter.
“The (touchdown) play felt really good,” Ranc said. “Everybody did their job, so it wasn’t all just me, a lot of people did a lot of things to open up that play.”
Being on the football field for the first time in more than six months did not phase Ranc.
“I felt really good,” he said. “The coaches kept harping on, ‘Take this seriously, even though it’s an All-Star game, this is what is going to transition you to the college game.”
“It did just that,” he continued. “Ninety percent of us are going on to play college football somewhere, and it felt good to put the pads back on and get into the swing of things before we get into the college game.”
For Rocky River’s Michael Dickey, Fairview’s Corey Schmidt and Olmsted Falls’ Brandon Friedrich, this was the first game experience on the field they will call home in the fall, as all three will be playing for Baldwin Wallace.
“This was really sweet,” Dickey said. “I like the whole atmosphere. A lot of people showed up today, and the coaches and team were a great part of (the fun), and we competed the best that we could.”
Friedrich had eight tackles in the game.
Bay was represented by defensive end Scott Rapps, who made several key goal line tackles late in the fourth quarter for the West.
“I was very honored to be in this game,” Rapps said. “I’m glad (Bay head coach Ryan Gorius) gave me the opportunity (to play). It’s just pretty cool to be able to get back on the field after how many months of being off the field. It’s kind of a good practice of what we’ll have going on in August.”
This was the second All-Star game this year for Rapps,as he played in the Greater Cleveland basketball All-Star game in March. He was recently named second team All-West Shore Conference while competing for the Bay High School’s track and field team in the high jump event, and received the Nelson Narks Award for being the most outstanding senior athlete at Bay. He will be attending Ohio Northern University this fall and will be playing football.
North Olmsted defensive back Tom Rodriguez snagged an endzone interception in the game. He will be playing for Case Western Reserve University this fall.
Lakewood was represented by offensive guard Ricky Dill, who will be playing for Wittenberg University this fall, and corner back Marquise Tyus, who will be playing for Ohio Dominican.
Rounding out the local All-Stars on the West roster were North Olmsted’s Sean Keller (Lake Erie College), Rocky River’s Robert Osborn (TBD), Olmsted Falls’ Michael Gib (Otterbein) and Lutheran West’s Kameron Bremer (Notre Dame College).
The West team also had Westshore representation in the coaching staff, as Olmsted Falls’ Sean Baker and Rocky River’s Rick Adams were on head coach Jamie Vanek’s (Valley Forge) sideline.
“It was a great experience for me, just to be around all of these athletes,” Adams said. “Having Coach Vanek as a head coach, it was an honor and a privilege for me to be an assistant. It was a lot of fun – when you had the athletes that we had – it made it easy.”