Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 16, 2013

Ohio-Michigan Border Classic gains coaches' OK

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — An Ohio-Michigan All-Star football game has been approved for next summer.

The two high school football associations met Monday to hammer out details.

In Michigan, the game would likely replace, at least for a year, the annual East-West All-Star game, said Elk Rapids coach Ed Schindler, a regional director for the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association. In Ohio, the contest would be a substitute for the Big 33 Classic between Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“It’s a risk,” Schindler said. “Ohio is pretty good. Our best kids would have to play in order for us to compete.”

That’s been a big problem with the in-state East-West game.

“The best players in the state, the players that are going Division 1, have declined to play in the East-West,” Schindler said. “We think this might add some pizzazz.”

Schindler said a majority of the coaches in the association supported the Border Classic at a meeting this summer.

“It may be time to try something different,” Traverse City Central coach Tom Passinault said. “I think the East-West game was getting a little stagnant. It had lost its luster. Maybe this will attract new interest.”

The Ohio-Michigan game will be played Saturday June 14 in Findlay, Ohio. Rosters will be announced in February.

The downside to the game, Schindler and Passinault said, is that it limits the number of players who can compete.

“Now, we will be going with 40 kids, where before you had two groups of about 50 kids — one group from the East, one from the West,” Schindler said. “Before it was also mandatory you had to have Class D and Class C players. Now, we’ll just be picking the best of the best.”

“Fewer kids will get an opportunity to play in an All-Star game,” Passinault added.

That’s one reason Schindler hopes the East-West game can be preserved, even with the Ohio-Michigan game a reality.

“That’s what I would prefer, if we could afford it, if we could do both in the future,” he said. “We still have a lot of D-2 and D-3 kids who enjoy playing in the East-West game. It would be great if we could have both.”

Schindler said even with a select roster for a game with Ohio, northern Michigan should be represented. Currently, four area players have committed to Division 1 schools — St. Francis linebacker Byron Bullough (Michigan State) and defensive lineman Jake Khoury (Buffalo), Traverse City West offensive lineman Connor Hayes (Pittsburgh) and Harbor Springs H-back David Walker (Western Michigan).