Top county high school football players meeting for holiday game
DOWNTOWN AKRON — On Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 28, at 10:30 a.m., many of the best high school football players in Summit County will gather at St. Vincent-St. Mary (STVM) High School’s John Cistone Field/Green Street Stadium to play in the fourth annual Thanks4giving High School Football All Star Game.
Greg Shook, Thanks4giving’s director of events and organizational structure, said the game harkens back to a popular local tradition.
“The Thanks4giving All Star Game brings back the former city championship game played at the Rubber Bowl from 1942 through 1990,” he said. “Families can now celebrate high school football involving all 28 schools from Summit County.”
The inaugural Thanks4giving High School Football All Star Game — founded by Jacob Thompson and Jay Brophy Jr. — was played in 2010.
“We wanted to find a way to involve kids in a positive format and get the community involved,” said Thompson, who is president of the annual event. “Growing up, our first passion was football, and that’s what we know. So we took an Akron tradition and molded it to fit our motto of ‘kids and community.’ It’s just a great way to have family and community involvement and to have fun.”
Shook said STVM’s stadium is a great place for the game.
“The location is centrally located near Downtown Akron,” Shook said. “Teams from all over Summit County travel to Downtown Akron to view this exciting event. In 2012, over 3,000 fans attended the game.”
According to Thompson, the goals of the game are to “cap off the high school senior career of the players, many of whom are already signed to play at major NCAA Division I programs,” and to “provide these top players one more opportunity to showcase their skills to dozens of college coaches.”
All of the players invited to participate in the game are divided into two teams coached by local high school coaches. The head coaches in this year’s game are Kevin Vaughn, football coach at Springfield High School, for the East Squad and Mike Laktash, football coach at North High School, for the West Squad.
“The top senior players and coaches are nominated by the high school coaches and the rosters are selected by the FBC [Faith Belief and Commitment] staff,” Shook said. “Each year, between 80 and 90 senior players participate in the game.”
According to Shook, the rosters, which are subject to change before kickoff, are available at the FBC website at www.fbcsports.org.
During the game’s halftime, Thompson said, children from Camp Quality will be honored.
“Preliminarily, we have six to eight kids who are going to come down, and we’re going to announce their names. They will participate in a punt, pass and kick competition,” he said. “Camp Quality is a summer camp for kids who have cancer. We’re going to celebrate these kids, who are either fighting cancer or have survived it or are in remission.”
In addition, Thomson said, a community member will be surprised at halftime with the Joy Janay Brophy Fight for Life Award.
“Joy passed from SIDS when she was only six weeks old, and we named this Fight for Life Award after her,” Thompson said. “The winner of the award is going to be surprised. This person is going to come to the game, and we’ll announce their name and talk about them.”
Tickets for the game cost $5 and are available at the gate on game day, Thompson said, and canned food goods will be collected as patrons enter the stadium.
“High school games run $7 for tickets, so we decided to have everyone bring a canned food item in place of the extra $2,” he stated. “The proceeds go to the North American Indian Cultural Center group and the [Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank].”
Thanks to the community’s generosity last year, Thompson said, a lot of families were able to have a brighter holiday season.
“Last year, it took two hours to load and unload the canned food items,” he said. “With just our donations, we were able to feed a little over 10,000 families at the food bank.”
For more information about the game or to volunteer, go to www.fbcsports.org.
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