INDIANAPOLIS | It's been said defense wins championships. If that was the case, the North should've won Friday night's North-South All-Star Game at Indianapolis North Central High School.
Instead, it was the South prevailing 16-7.
“It wasn't the way we wanted to start the game,” said Lake Central coach Brett St. Germain, who was the North head coach this week.
It didn't take the South long to get going.
Avon's Lance Magee picked off North QB Zach Terrell (Homestead) on the first play of the game and returned it for a 20-yard score and 7-0 lead.
Later, Indianapolis Scecina's Ryan Frain kicked an all-star record 52-yard field goal with 2:16 left in the first quarter.
The North was scrambling from the get-go.
Then, when Evansville Mater Dei's Cody Hess scored on a 1-yard run with 7:48 left in the second quarter, it was all hands on deck. Especially for the defense.
“All week long they were talking trash,” Morton defensive back Alfred Dickey said. “We didn't give up. We kept fighting. Every hit we stayed excited.”
The North defense, which had region standouts Jake Grossnickle of Valparaiso, Ike Spearman of Lake Central and Dickey, stuffed the South in the second half. Not one point was scored in the final two quarters.
“We just turned up our intensity,” said Spearman, who had three tackles. “We knew it was time to fight.”
The South defense was getting a deep push for much of the game. North quarterbacks were running for their lives. But with 7:19 left, Justin Laureys hit Danny Anthrop for a 56-yard scoring play and it was a game again.
“Our guys never quit,” St. Germain said. “Our kids competed to win at the end.”
The North actually outgained the South 199-172 in total yards. But the pick 6 to open the game and the record-setting field goal by a kicker going to Illinois was the difference.
“Hey, we were rivals when we came down here and we're all friends now,” Spearman said.
Several region players laughed about the punt by Munster's Mark Strjbak that turned into a 14-yard gain in the first quarter. A lot of laughter and high 5s went on as they talked about the play.
“My quarterback skills came into play once the ball hit the ground,” Strbjak said. “I was hurdling, I was juking, I looked good out there.”
“Did you see him jump over that guy on that run?” Andrean's Mason Zurek said with a smile.
Despite a tough loss, St. Germain was happy with the heart and effort of his team. As they broke their final huddle with a “North Pride” scream, it was proof the week was good no matter what the scoreboard said.
“We had a great week of practice,” St. Germain said. “But we had a lot of kids learning new systems and new terminology. We had some breakdowns.
"But our kids played hard and never quit and that's the most important thing.”