INDIANAPOLIS | It came as no surprise to Roy Richards.
The Morton coach has witnessed the wonder of D'Jari Griffin for four years, and had little doubt that his talents would shine among the best in Friday's North-South All-Star Game at North Central.
"That's DJ," Richards said after Griffin was named North MVP. "On the larger stage, under the brighter lights, he's always made the bigger plays. I was blessed to coach him for four years and I was fortunate to have one more week to be with him."
Griffin, who was also chosen a North captain, made four catches for 47 yards, including a 16-yard snag for the North's only score. He added 26 yards on three punt returns.
"I didn't know I would come out and perform like this," Griffin said. "It's respect when the other team puts their best guy on you. With all these great players, to get to see what I can do and win MVP, it says a lot. It's amazing."
Griffin matched North teammate Jordan Gater for most catches in the game and was second only to the South's Brayton Deckard in yardage. The St. Francis recruit's stats could've been a lot more impressive and the outcome different had a fourth-quarter play connected. Griffin had huge separation on a defender, but couldn't quite run under Anthony Yoder's throw.
"I thought he was gone," Crown Point's Jordan Jurasevich said of Griffin. "He's a shifty guy."
Those moves were also on display after the touchdown when Griffin broke into a dance on the sidelines.
"During practice, I said if I scored, I would do it with them," he said.
Led by Griffin, the North threw for 160 yards. The region's Austin Atherton, Barry McCarter and Denzel Pierce accounted for four grabs among them.
"Coaching the receivers was an absolute blast," Richards said. "There were so many good players and good kids. It was so much fun drawing up plays. It was almost limitless.
"We were kind of making stuff up to get them the ball. It was an unbelievable week. The hardest part was not doing enough to win. You have opportunities in any game and you've got to take advantage. That's football."