STEVE HANLON: North-South isn't perfect, but important

2011-07-21T22:00:00Z 2012-08-31T00:25:08Z STEVE HANLON: North-South isn't perfect, but importantBy Steve Hanlon Prep Beat nwitimes.com
July 21, 2011 10:00 pm  • 

Dreams are awesome. They are the ideas that drive humans to excellence. They are the concepts that push folks through extreme difficulties.

Simply, when dreams die so do we.

Portage's Jake Dixon had two dreams this time last year. One was to lead his Indians football team so well that he would be selected to participate in the North-South All-Star game.

Second, he wanted to earn a Division I football scholarship.

The standout running back, who set a school record with 378 yards in one game against Chesterton, was selected for the North team. And he got a call from Fordham, which trumped the first honor.

Like many Division I football players in Indiana, Dixon was told he could not play in the North-South game, which took place last Friday at Indianapolis North Central High School.

"I flew out on July 3," Dixon said of the university located in New York City. "I had to get into my room. I started a class right away."

Many top-shelf football players from this state have had to make the same choice. When an institution is writing you a big check to pay for your schooling and opening a big door of opportunity, it's hard to say no.

Plus, the risk is always there. In 1993 Merrillville's Jamel Williams was injured in the North-South game and had to sit out his freshman year at Nebraska.

So as great as the North-South game is, being America's longest-lasting showcase event, there are reasons why the very best are not always there.

"It's a representative all-star game," said Munster coach Leroy Marsh, who is on the Indiana Football Coaches Association's Board of Directors. "We have kids from Class A all the way up to 5A. I've coached in the game three times and there's always been four or five kids from both teams who don't come.

"I don't think losing a couple Division I kids affects the game very much."

Last Friday's 14-7 South win was painful to watch. The North's offense was awful. The quarterback play left a lot to be desired. Dixon surely would've been worth a few points.

But it is what it is. This is not going to change. And next year's North-South game will be better. It has to be. Law of averages.

"It was always a goal of mine to make the North," Dixon said. "I definitely wanted to represent Northwest Indiana the best I could. But, my bigger goal was to play Division I football and I had to do what my coach wanted me to."

Dreams. They are awesome. Until they collide.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

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