Making the 90-minute round-trip drive for five days last week – specifically paying for the gas on a high school student’s budget – from Urbana to Northmont High School was Noah Robinson’s biggest concern about participating in the Miami Valley Football Coaches Association all-star game.
Until he heard a bigger one.
“It was kind of intimidating at first because you’re going from the Central Buckeye Conference to facing some of the Greater Western Ohio Conference linemen,” said Robinson, who anchored the North team’s offensive line at center Friday night at Centerville High School. “They were telling me this guy is 300 pounds on the defensive line. I got nervous. But I handled my water. It was really fun and such a cool experience.
“It was kind of hefty with the gas, but it was definitely worth it. A beautiful night and I got to play with some awesome people.”
Robinson was joined on the winning North team by Catholic Central defensive back Mykah Eichie, Cedarville linebacker Tommy Lowe and defensive back Hayden Lee, Kenton Ridge receiver Andrew Good and Shawnee receiver Pete Mueller.
The North beat the South 42-0 to give the winning team a 21-12-1 series lead.
“I think we all gave it 100 percent. We played together as a team and got the W,” Eichie said. “It’s more about going out and having fun. Everybody here is an all-star and deserves to be here. There’s no need to brag or anything about winning.”
Coaches have a week of practice to mesh the players into one team. Many have gone head-to-head under the Friday night lights and suddenly find themselves playing on the same team. Eichie experienced that with Cedarville’s Lowe and Lee. The Indians beat the Irish 44-16 in Week 10 of last season.
“We made amends,” Eichie said, smiling. “We practiced together and we had a lot of fun. We’ve got a couple rivals and we came together. We played as a team and made a lot of friends.”
“He’s a good guy,” Lowe said of Eichie. “I like playing with him. I knew him a little bit before this so it was fun playing on the same team with him.”
Robinson plans to continue his football career at Bluffton University and Eichie at Wittenberg University. As for Lowe, it was likely his final time suiting up. He plans to attend Wright State University.
“It was a little bittersweet but it was still fun,” Lowe said. “I’ll miss the relationships, the players and the coaches. There’s a lot of memories on and off the field. … This a lot different than the OHC. It was good competing with those guys. It was fun.”
The North kicked off the week with a cookout on Sunday. They capped it with a pizza team dinner on Thursday. Northmont coach Tony Broering had a week to bring together his team of players from Division I programs like Piqua, Troy and Trotwood-Madison to D-VII programs like Catholic Central and Cedarville and programs in between.
“We were calling it the Clark County Connection. We had a great time with those guys,” said Broering, the former Springfield South coach. “It was really a fun week with them. A lot of good personality on the team. They’re really good football players, but even more than that the kind of kids they are. They’re all-star people.”
“Tommy was awesome. Hayden was a great kid. They had a lot of fun. … I never get to see those kids. I know the Wayne kids, the Piqua and Troy guys. I get to meet and interact with these other kids and they’re fantastic. Mykah played great all week in practice and had a nice game tonight, too. There are good players everywhere.”
Even if they have to drive a little farther to show it. Robinson said the daily trips were worth it to compete in his final high school football game.
“I didn’t want to do all that driving to come up here and lose. I definitely wanted to take care of business,” Robinson said. “It was such a great and unique experience. I’m so grateful to share it. You get small schools like Urbana and you get to play next to Wayne and Northmont and all these talented schools. Meeting some players from around the state, that’s probably my favorite experience.”