INDIANAPOLIS | The outcome, for the third year in a row, wasn't what the North All-Stars were hoping for, but in the grand scheme, it doesn't matter all that much.
Players met players and made memories over the course of five days that will stay with them much longer than the 27-6 loss to the South.
"Honestly, I won't even remember the score," Chesterton's Joe Troop said. "What I'll remember most are the friendships I made, the bonds. That was the greatest thing. No matter what we're here for, what we do, we share a passion for football."
Opponents in their prep careers, Troop and Portage's Rashaan Coleman shared kickoff return duties, though neither got his hands on a single boot.
"Guys like this, that's what you play for," Coleman said. "I love every one of these guys. It means a lot to me. I appreciate every moment. It brings tears to my eyes. Everybody wants it so bad. This is the dream. Coming in, it's like college. Everyone's fast, everyone's strong. The fact that they want to compete nonstop, that's what made practice so fun."
Even with the stifling 100-degree heat?
"It was hot," West Side's Torre Hopson said, emphasizing the word hot. "Early in the week, I was kind of nervous, then I started getting used to it. I learned a lot from this. I learned how to be independent."
Hopson, who will walk on at Southern Illinois, exchanged numbers and looks forward to maintaining contact with his newfound friends on social media.
"We're like brothers now," Hopson said.
He met future Salukis teammates Quentin Lacey-Blackwell, of Merrillville, and Garrett Smith, of Vincennes Lincoln.
"I built lifelong friends down here," Lacey-Blackwell said. "Knowing everyone’s names now, everyone’s going to stay in touch. We had a ball every time we got together. No one on this North team disliked anybody."
Coleman only wishes that the inspirational trip to Camp Riley to interact with disabled children could have come earlier in the week.
"Going to stuff like that, we realize how blessed we are, to have the God-given talent we have and the ability to play," Coleman said.
Troop called the Camp Riley visit "life-changing." Lacey-Blackwell hopes to visit there again.
"We're complaining about the heat, and you see those kids, you realize you have 100 times better," he said. "This is just a game. We should be grateful to be able to play it."