Zack Ball walked away from his football career with a great sense of satisfaction Thursday night.
The recent Lebanon High School graduate came up with a key fumble recovery and helped the East continue its dominance of the West in the 43rd Southwestern Ohio Football Coaches Association Ron Woyan East-West All-Star Game.
The East rallied from a pair of 9-point margins and finished the contest with 20 unanswered points to secure a 34-19 victory at Kings.
» PHOTO GALLERY: Nick Graham’s 44 images from Kings
“I’m done,” said Ball, who’s planning to major in marketing at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash. “I think it’s a good happy ending. Week 10 of my senior year didn’t really end the way I wanted to. This was kind of a redemption, go out with a bang. I had a blast.”
Ball, a 5-foot-11, 225-pound linebacker, had three solo tackles and an assist for the winners. His fumble recovery late in the third quarter was followed shortly thereafter by a 52-yard touchdown run from Princeton’s Tyrese Sherman.
That pushed the East ahead for good, erasing a 19-14 deficit.
“Tyrese Sherman hit one on that draw, and he was gone,” said Bethel-Tate’s Jeff Essig, the East head coach. “He kind of lit the thing wide open with that, and we kind of took it from there.”
Ball thought he might get a defensive touchdown when he recovered the fumble.
“It looked like he just dropped it, so I just hopped on it,” Ball said. “I took off, and sadly somebody grabbed me and pulled me down. I thought I was going to take it, honestly.”
The East finished with a 364-190 edge in yardage and got touchdown passes from Milford’s Blake King, Fayetteville’s Luke Wiederhold, and Bethel-Tate’s Seth Becker and Owen Holtke.
Holtke’s 44-yard scoring connection with Austin Watt of Anderson was a halfback pass that made it a 27-19 affair midway through the fourth period.
“Our guys played super hard. They trusted the process,” Essig said. “We kept everything simple because attendance for these kind of games is kind of different. We only played with four plays and two run plays. That’s all we did.
“These guys understood that we’re never out of a game with what we did tonight. It’s one-on-one in this game, so it’s your athlete against their athlete.”
Lakota East’s Dylan Fry made one catch for 6 yards for the East, and Franklin center Nathaneel Rudd earned Essig’s praise for his toughness.
“He kind of got banged up,” Essig said. “He came off and told me something about his hand, and I said, ‘Do you want to come out?’ He said, ‘No, sir.’ He was our only center for this team, and that’s just the kind of thing that comes out in this game. It’s their last go. They want to finish.”
Clark Montessori’s Alex Schaefer threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Aiken’s Tim Williams for the West. Courtney Woodward of North College Hill added a 45-yard TD run, and Wyoming’s Sergio Listo kicked two field goals.
The West led 9-0 and 16-7, yet converted just 7-of-30 passes between Schaefer, NCH’s Javontay Barr and Williams.
“I walked in at halftime and said, ‘Man, we smoked some major opportunities,’ ” said Woodward coach Kali Jones, who directed the West. “That’s what happens in football. When you don’t capitalize, it’ll come back to bite you, and that’s what happened.”
Contributing to the West defense were:
• Ethan Minges (four solo tackles) and Joe Valentine (two solos, two assists) of Ross
• Kegen Rogers (three solos, one assist, 1.5 sacks, one fumble recovery) and Chase Luckett (three solos, one assist, two tackles for loss) of Badin
• Tim Roberts (one solo, one assist) of Talawanda and Deric McIntyre (one solo, three assists) of Edgewood
• Gabe Mathews (three solos, one assist) and Jason Smith (two solos, three assists) of Hamilton
Jones is a former Wayne assistant coach. He said Smith, a 6-0, 300-pound nose tackle, reminded him of Robert Landers, who played at Wayne and is now an Ohio State Buckeye.
“I think I did real well, causing a lot of havoc, making the quarterback bounce out,” Smith said. “We just needed to finish those plays.”
PAST JOURNAL-NEWS COVERAGE
» 2017: East 23, West 7
» 2016: East 21, West 12
» 2015: East 40, West 20
» 2014: West 63, East 43
He will continue his career at Notre Dame College and said he’s ready for the next level. Even with the loss, Smith said his last prep game was “a fun experience.”
“I feel accomplished. It’s been a dream of mine to play in an all-star game,” he said. “It was definitely well put together. I like playing with a bunch of different athletes. I like to see the different athletic ability of a lot of people.”
Of the difficult second half for the West defense, Smith added, “I think you can tell a lot of us really haven’t worked out or done much since our last season, so it kind of kicked into us.”
Loveland’s Nate Webster III, New Richmond’s Chandler Kinhalt and Princeton’s Rafael Floyd all had touchdown receptions for the East.
The West’s offensive line included Dillon Stone of Hamilton and T.J. Vicars of Ross.
“I’m grateful to have this experience,” Jones said. “I don’t like losing, but it was a joy to coach these young men. I look forward to seeing them develop in college and going on to be positive and productive citizens.”
The East leads this series 25-18 and has won 11 of the last 12 meetings.
W: Sergio Listo 32 field goal
W: Courtney Woodward 45 run (Kick blocked)
E: Nate Webster III 3 pass from Blake King (Will Scaggs kick)
W: Tim Williams 34 pass from Alex Schaefer (Listo kick)
E: Chandler Kinhalt 15 pass from Seth Becker (Scaggs kick)
W: Listo 27 field goal
E: Tyrese Sherman 52 run (Scaggs kick)
E: Austin Watt 44 pass from Owen Holtke (Kick failed)
E: Rafael Floyd 13 pass from Luke Wiederhold (Scaggs kick)
WEST: Courtney Woodward (North College Hill) 4-56, Ryan Brewster (Clark Montessori) 11-30, Tim Williams (Aiken) 5-8, Nakhyje Wright (Lockland) 2-5, Javontay Barr (North College Hill) 2-(-7)
EAST: Tyrese Sherman (Princeton) 4-66, Seth Becker (Bethel-Tate) 6-34, Blake King (Milford) 8-29, Owen Holtke (Bethel-Tate) 5-16, Nate Webster III (Loveland) 5-2, Luke Wiederhold (Fayetteville) 3-(-8)
WEST: Alex Schaefer (Clark Montessori) 6-22-0, 67 yards; Javontay Barr (North College Hill) 1-6-0, 31 yards; Tim Williams (Aiken) 0-2-0
EAST: Seth Becker (Bethel-Tate) 4-7-0, 76 yards; Blake King (Milford) 7-16-0, 63 yards; Owen Holtke (Bethel-Tate) 1-1-0, 44 yards; Luke Wiederhold (Fayetteville) 5-9-1, 42 yards
WEST: Adrian McFerrin (Mount Healthy) 2-54, Tim Williams (Aiken) 1-34, DaShawn Lawrence (Taft) 1-4, Ju’Aries Montgomery (Mount Healthy) 1-3, Martis Edwards (Gamble Montessori) 1-3, Keith Fisher (Clark Montessori) 1-0
EAST: Rafael Floyd (Princeton) 4-79, Austin Watt (Anderson) 3-71, Tommy Bauman (Kings) 3-22, Chandler Kinhalt (New Richmond) 2-22, Milyke Brown (Withrow) 1-10, Tyrese Sherman (Princeton) 1-8, Dylan Fry (Lakota East) 1-6, Edmond Taylor (Purcell Marian) 1-4, Nate Webster III (Loveland) 1-3
WEST: Mike Browning (Harrison)
WEST: Kegen Rogers (Badin)
EAST: Zack Ball (Lebanon), Garrett Vanover (Kings)
WEST: Sergio Listo (Wyoming) 4 punts, 39.5 average
EAST: Owen Holtke (Bethel-Tate) 3 punts, 37.0 average
EAST 25, WEST 18
1971 — West 23-12; 1972 — East 37-21; 1973 — East 20-8; 1974 — East 12-8; 1975 — East 14-7; 1976 — East 22-7; 1977 — East 35-14; 1978 — West 22-7; 1979 — East 17-14; 1985 — West 15-14; 1986 — West 15-8; 1987 — West 35-14; 1988 — West 10-6; 1989 — East 18-6; 1990 — West 24-20; 1991 — West 35-0; 1992 — West 25-7; 1993 — West 27-6; 1994 — East 8-3; 1995 — West 24-18; 1996 — West 19-17; 1997 — East 18-0; 1998 — East 23-14; 1999 — West 14-13; 2000 — East 18-7; 2001 — East 21-16; 2002 — West 21-17; 2003 — West 6-0; 2004 — East 26-13; 2005 — West 42-19; 2006 — West 35-0; 2007 — East 28-18; 2008 — East 41-21; 2009 — East 42-35; 2010 — East 21-13; 2011 — East 39-35; 2012 — East 17-14; 2013 — East 21-19; 2014 — West 63-43; 2015 — East 40-20; 2016 — East 21-12; 2017 — East 23-7; 2018 — East 34-19
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