NEW PHILADELPHIA -- Ridgewood head coach John Slusser took his successful coaching skills and staff with him to the 32nd annual Times-Reporter Charities All-Star Football Game and helped guide the West team to a 34-14 thrashing of the East squad at Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium, July 31. The contest was played for 4,727 fans on a perfect night for football with the temperature at kick-off in the 70s.
Slusser upped his head coaching record at the All-Star game to 2-0 as the West fired out to a 20-0 lead before trading two touchdowns with the East for the remainder of the game.
The series is now tied at 16-16 with the West dominating the last 12 years with a 10-2 record to pull even with the East.
Area players for the West included Newcomerstown's Taylor Brandon (linebacker), Ridgewood's Derrick Young (linebacker), defensive linemen Zack Queen, Ryan Gress, and Will Allen, and offensive linemen Max Freetage, Justin Murphy and Brad Gallagher. For the East, Indian Valley's Zack Baker (defensive back), Bo Gilmore (linebacker), and Eric Gray ( wide receiver) were on the team.
Corey Lisowski of Dover had the big gun in the game as he threw for two touchdowns and darted in for another in picking up offensive MVP honors for the West.
Lisowski, who had a 5-wide offense to work with, finished the night completing 13-of-18 passes for 196 stripes and rushing for 93 yards on 11 carries. His TD throws included 49 yards to Tornado teammate Cory Matlick at the beginning of the game and a 35-yard strike to River View's Coty Cochran.
Lisowski and Garaway quarterback David Gerber, who had his own 12-yard scoring throw, combined to set a passing record of 304 yards, a record that broke the 280 mark set by the East in 1990.
Malvern quarterback Tyler Tucci won offensive MVP honors for the East while New Philadelphia's John Phillips claimed defensive MVP honors. Voting was done by the media present at the game.
Tucci, who is headed to play football at West Liberty, was 9-of-19 passing for 177 yards and an interception. He also ran 18 times for 30 yards.
After an exchange of possessions to open the game, the West put up six on the board when Lisowski connected with Matlick at the 8:24 mark of the first quarter. Matlick drew an unsportsmanlike penalty for dunking the ball over the goal post bar, but since he had the blessing of his coaches to do it, no one was too concerned. Lisowski barely noticed the extra yardage and hit Dover teammate Kyle Sattler for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 West lead.
The score went to 14-0 shortly after when West Holmes' Marc Rohr, the West's defensive MVP, intercepted a tipped Tucci pass and covered 95 yards to pay dirt at the 6:21 mark.
After stopping the East on downs, Gerber came in to inflict his own damage with a 12-yard TD toss to Coshocton's Cody Sampsel. That put the score at 20-0 with 3:12 still remaining in only the first quarter. Indian Valley star Bo Gilmore got a hand on the pass, only to see Sampsel still able to reel in the ball.
The East offense finally came to life when Harrison Central quarterback Tyler Kenny drove his team 92-yards and finished it with a 1-yard dive to make the score 20-7 with 4:33 to go in the second frame.
An interception by the East's A.J. Materna (Claymont) in the end zone just before halftime of a Gerber pass kept the score in place for the break.
The East carried their momentum to the second half and started things off with a 13-play, 73 yard drive that was led by Malvern's Tyler Tucci. Claymont's Jared Kendziorski, who missed his senior year with a knee injury, scored from 1 yard out with 5:41 left in the third quarter to make it 20-14. Malvern's Vince Larson added his first of two point-after kicks.
The West got back on track quickly though, as Lisowski led a 12-play, 79 yard drive that ended with his own 1-yard scoring run. He also scored the two-point conversion for a 28-14 West lead with 22 seconds to go in the third period.
The East almost scored again in the fourth quarter but was stopped on downs at the eight-yard line with 6:38 left in the game. Lisowski TD strike to Cochran at the 4:31 mark closed out the game's scoring.
After the game, Slusser commented, "Our kids really bought into the team concept. They were playing for each other and not themselves. I've been really lucky when I've coached because I've had unselfish players who bought into 'us' instead of 'me.' Our kids were on the same page all night and when one was down, they picked him up."
He added, "I think the difference was that we got pressure on them. Our defense played extremely well for the most part. We got into the backfield and made the big stops when we needed them. And our offensive line was outstanding. I don't think our quarterbacks were touched all night. The protection was great."
Matlick had six catches for 127 yards to lead the West while Malvern's Vince Larson caught six passes for 84 yards.
Gerber finished the night 8 of 15 for 108 yards, two interceptions, and 14 rushing yards on four totes. Kenny was 9-of-10 for 81 markers.
Slusser has been involved with the game five times now, including two as a head coach, including 2006, two as an assistant, and one as a player when he played for Ridgewood. He has led the Generals to a 36-8 record in his four seasons as head coach, earning playoff berths each year.
Nearly $261,000 has been raised for charity as a result of the T-R All-Star games.
East 0 7 7 0 - 14
West 20 0 8 6 - 34
W - Matlick 49 pass from Lisowski (Sattler pass from Lisowski)
W - Rohr 95 interception return (run failed)
W - Sampsel 12 pass from Gerber (pass failed)
E - Kenny 1 run (Larson kick)
E - Kendziorski 1 run (Larson kick)
W - Lisowski 1 run (Lisowski run)
W - Cochran 35 pass from Lisowski (run failed)