Dustin Foley is excited about heading off to college. But it can wait just a little bit longer.
Area seniors, having already graduated and preparing to move on, will get one last chance in the prep spotlight Thursday night in the Southwestern Ohio Football Coaches Association’s Ron Woyan East-West All-Star Game at Kings.
“I’ve already started conditioning and lifting for college. This is just kind of my ‘have fun’ part of the summer,” said Foley, who played at Ross and will be attending Centre College. “All of us are clicking pretty well. I think it’s going to be a good game.”
Foley will be a wide receiver/quarterback for the West squad in the 41st edition of this all-star contest. The East leads the series 22-18 and has won eight of the last nine meetings.
“It’s all right. I don’t think we have a problem with that,” a smiling Foley said after Wednesday’s walk-through at Kings. “We’re trying to kill these guys. They’re already starting to talk.”
Other locals playing for the West will be quarterback Steve Cunningham and running back Isaiah Murph of Hamilton; outside linebacker Josh Weaver and offensive linemen Justin Rolfes and Logan O’Neil of Fairfield; and offensive linemen Kavanaugh McCarthy and Tim Tanner-Blair, along with defensive lineman Zach Nutter, of Lakota West.
Area players on the East roster are offensive lineman J.T. Timming and defensive lineman Hunter Burdno of Lakota East, and O-lineman George Groh of Lebanon.
“The key is just to go out and have a good time and definitely win for the East side,” said Timming, headed for James Madison University. “Being from Lakota East, I don’t like Lakota West. I don’t like the word West, so you gotta beat ’em.”
New Richmond’s Josh Stratton is the East’s head coach. He said things have come together nicely for his group.
“These kids are pretty good athletes and they’re involved in a lot of other things, so getting them to practice the first couple weeks was difficult,” Stratton said. “But the last couple weeks have been really smooth. They’re awesome kids, really fun to be around. I’ve laughed more in the last two weeks than I have in a really long time.
“My No. 1 priority is that none of the kids get hurt. I stress to them to be smart and take care of each other in practice. I want to make sure they don’t have any setbacks and they can be the best that they can be when they show up for their college coaches. The other thing is just to have fun. The win will take care of itself. The game becomes competitive because they’re competitive-natured human beings, so I don’t really have to worry about that.”
Aiken’s Jeremy Pflug is the West head coach. He’s expressed similiar sentiments to his players.
“It’s neat to see people from all over the city get together and how quickly they buy into something,” Pflug said. “My first fear was that it would be forever before an offense would get running, but it was fluid from Day 3.
“Not only are they going to play in college, but now they get one extra high school game. There’s a hundred other kids who would die for that chance. We want them to show up, be positive and play hard.”
And what about the East’s recent domination of this event?
“We’re trying to score 70 points,” Pflug said. “We want to break every record. We want to win by 50 if we can. I’m not going to lie. I don’t like losing to my kids in cornhole. I don’t want to lose this either.”
He likes the West’s offensive firepower. Pflug mentioned Cunningham, Aiken’s Samonte Griffin and Harrison’s Mitchell Hogue as the primary quarterbacks, with perhaps a little help from Foley.
“We’ve got some guys who can run and sling it,” Pflug said. “It’ll be fun. We’ll be very fast-paced.”
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Foley has been the Ross quarterback for the past two seasons. He averaged 20.4 yards per reception as a sophomore receiver for the Rams.
And he’s planning to be a cornerback at Centre, an NCAA Division III school located in Danville, Ky.
“The first time I visited, that was where I wanted to go,” said Foley, adding that he committed to Centre in early January. “I loved the school, and once everything came in, I accepted right away.”
Timming had a strong reaction when he made his first visit to James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va., and committed to JMU last June. He also had an offer from Georgia State, but didn’t like the school’s downtown Atlanta setting.
Playing two seasons for Lakota East turned out to be a huge benefit for Timming. He spent his first two campaigns playing at Monroe.
“Football was the main reason (for the transfer),” Timming said. “It was definitely a great decision. It was hard, but it’s been worth it in the end.
“Starting as a freshman at Monroe … I didn’t really see much of a transition from junior high to high school, and everybody was telling me there was going to be a huge transition. I was like, ‘I need to figure out somewhere to go,’ and the (Greater Miami Conference) being one of the best conferences in Ohio, that’s where I knew I had to go.”
Timming (6-2, 295) was a guard for East last fall and figures to play that position Thursday. He also may see some time at fullback.
“Mainly as a lead blocker, but we’ll see what happens,” Timming said. “I didn’t run fullback at East, but pulling a lot, I’m kind of used to being in open space a little bit.”
The last time he ran with a ball in his hands?
“That was probably back in junior high when I picked up a fumbled snap and made about 3 yards before the linebacker got me,” Timming said.
Stratton said he likes to give his linemen a chance to shine “because they don’t get any recognition.”
“It’s kind of like a goal-line package. We call it Tank,” Stratton said. “I love throwing the big guys some bones, and that’s one of them. We’ve got a couple more little tricks up our sleeve for the linemen. You’ll see them tomorrow night.”
Here are the coaches and players (with positions listed on the official rosters):
Head Coach: Jeremy Pflug (Aiken)
Assistant Coaches: Jared Haynes (Oak Hills), Matt Sherwood (Harrison), Jason Sparks (Deer Park), Jay Volker (La Salle), Derek Wiggins (North College Hill)
Quarterbacks: Steve Cunningham (Hamilton), Samonte Griffin (Aiken)
Running Backs: Alex Anderson (Harrison), Kalik Lewis (Hughes), Jujuan Linzy (North College Hill), Isaiah Murph (Hamilton), Ja'Vahri Portis (Elder), Nykwuan Presswood (Taft)
Receivers: Dustin Foley (Ross), Mitchell Hogue (Harrison), Kenny Mabrey (Winton Woods), D.J. Martin (Northwest), Juwaun Tye (Western Hills), Delshon Watson (Finneytown)
Tight End: Isaiah Lyles (Aiken)
Offensive Linemen: Brandon Beebe (Colerain), Kavanaugh McCarthy (Lakota West), Logan O'Neil (Fairfield), Noah Oser (Taylor), Eric Perry (Wyoming), Justin Rolfes (Fairfield), Tim Tanner-Blair (Lakota West), Devin Williams (Northwest),
Defensive Linemen: Deshawn Anderson (Woodward), Deonta Belser (Elder), Yannis Dailey (Western Hills), Jamal Fox (Wyoming), Zach Nutter (Lakota West), Cooper O'Gara (Wyoming), Alex Parker (Winton Woods), Noah Pettyjohn (Reading), Olajuwon Pinkelton (Mount Healthy), Andrew Welch (Aiken)
Linebackers: Damion Blythe (Clark Montessori), Mason Brunner (Harrison), Solomon Roundtree (Lockland), Kwamane Watson (Winton Woods), Josh Weaver (Fairfield)
Defensive Backs: Taylor Holston (Shroder), Maizon Jackson (Taft), Nijha'i Jackson (Taft), JaVonte Williams (Mount Healthy),
Place-kicker/Punter: Christian Dinevski (Colerain)
Head Coach: Josh Stratton (New Richmond)
Assistant Coaches: Patrick Burke (New Richmond), Todd France (Mason), Matt Lester (Batavia), Ben Osborne (New Richmond), Bill Sisto (Glen Este)
Quarterbacks: Johnny Noyen (Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy), Tyler Pilcher (Glen Este), Dylan Smith (Anderson)
Running Backs: Robby Boone (Glen Este), Jeffrey Botts (Bethel-Tate), James Deaton (Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy)
Receivers: Adrian Baker (Turpin), Travis Goodman (Norwood), Eean Hornung (Western Brown), Austin Torrens (New Richmond)
Tight Ends: Shawn Adams (Batavia), Logan Fishback (Clermont Northeastern)
Offensive Linemen: George Groh (Lebanon), Clayton Knecht (Milford), Austin Phillips (Glen Este), Ben Rackley (Turpin), Verquavion Robinson (Princeton), Tyler Sammons (New Richmond), Ben Schehr (Sycamore), J.T. Timming (Lakota East), Aaron Wyatt (Kings)
Defensive Linemen: Blake Bockrath (Kings), Hunter Burdno (Lakota East), Davionne Laney (Summit Country Day), Tony Mitchell (Walnut Hills), Lukas Moreland (Miami Valley Christian Academy), Chase Struewing (Waynesville), Danny Woodruff (Mariemont)
Linebackers: William Brady (Cincinnati Country Day), Spencer Clowery (Williamsburg), Tommy Harris III (Withrow), Noah Jasper (Princeton), Dustin Lykins (Little Miami), Jake Megois (Madeira), Jacob Pangallo (Amelia), DeAngelo Simmons (Mason)
Defensive Backs: Jeron Besecker (Mason), Jovon Cobbs (Sycamore), Timothy Crone (Fayetteville), Josh Rayman (Kings), Aaron Shannon (Withrow)