Grove shows versatility in West’s all-star football rout

The recent Lakota West High School graduate played on both sides of the ball in the Southwestern Ohio Football Coaches Association’s Ron Woyan East-West All-Star Game, accounting for 152 yards and two touchdowns.

Grove’s efforts helped the West end a seven-game losing streak with a resounding 63-43 victory at Kings.

“It was great,” Grove said. “I played quarterback, receiver, safety, corner. I was just trying to make plays out there and help us win.”

He was primarily a quarterback, compling 3 of 9 passes for 51 yards and a touchdown to Firebird teammate Tyler Jones (three catches, 55 yards).

Grove, who will play at Notre Dame College, also ran eight times for 101 yards and a score.

“Oh yeah, I had to give my high school teammate a play,” Grove said of the 25-yard TD toss to Jones that opened the game’s scoring. “We had a lot of athletes. We were underestimated a little.”

The 63 points represented the highest scoring total in this all-star series (42 was the old record), which began in 1971. Ross assistant coach Kenyon Commins was the West’s offensive coordinator.

“At the beginning of the game, Coach Commins was like, ‘I want more than 42 because that was the record,’ ” Grove said. “We were like, ‘We got you Coach, we’re going to get at least 70.’ We only got 63, but …”

Ross head coach Brian Butts was on the West staff and credited Commins for his offensive game plan. Commins’ brother Kurry (of Mariemont) was the East’s head coach.

“We were calling it the Commins Bowl,” Butts said. “Kenyon is an Okeana guy, a Ross guy. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be a little more fun for the Ross Comminses instead of the Mariemont Comminses.”

Cincinnati Christian head coach David Fulcher directed the West squad. His goal for the players was to “play hard, play fast, enjoy their lives.”

“Obviously I don’t have this kind of talent at CCS, and I don’t have this many guys at CCS,” said Fulcher, pointing to the West’s 44-man roster. “It’s awesome to come out and do this. These guys worked hard over the last month. All we had to do is put it in the playmakers’ hands, and they made plays.”

Fairfield’s Tyron Harper had three receptions for 27 yards and returned a kickoff 42 yards for the West, which roared to 29 points in the first quarter.

All-star games typically aren’t big on defense, but numerous local defensive players made an impact.

Ross defensive back Blake Ballard intercepted a pass. Included in the tackle totals were Ross linebacker Adam Harris (four solos, two assists, two tackles for loss), Fairfield defensive back Recoe Walker (four solos), Edgewood defensive back Spencer Pfirrman (three solos, one assist), Talawanda linebacker Dakota Byrd (two solos, two assists), CCS linebacker Cody Leach (one solo, three assists), CCS defensive back Dale Belzer (two solos), Ballard (one solo, two assists), Ross linebacker Luke Hannon (three assists), Grove (one solo) and Badin linebacker Korey Hawk (one assist).

It was the final football game for Ballard and Pfirrman. Both are planning to be students at Miami University Hamilton.

“That was nice, the last pick of my life,” Ballard said of his first-quarter interception, which was thrown by Norwood’s Andrew Conover. “It wasn’t even my guy. I left my man and got that pick.”

“I’ve never played in a game like this. It’s just craziness,” Pfirrman said. “All I’ve got to say is it makes you a way better player because if you’re not on your ‘A’ game, they’re going to blow right past you. You’ve got to get used to the speed and the physicality.”

Pfirrman said he’s proud to be the first football player in his family to compete in an all-star game.

“I played against some of these guys and, man, it’s even better when they’re on your team,” Pfirrman said. “There’s going to be a lot of memories in this. It was my last game, and I could just leave it all out here.”

Ballard said he’ll also remember more than just the game.

“I got to meet a bunch of guys I’ve never really talked to before, some guys I’ve been playing against my whole life,” Ballard said. “This was a good way to go out.”

Thursday was Butts’ 50th birthday, and the players enjoyed giving him an ice-water shower.

“Luckily I turned around just in time or they would’ve killed the new cellphone I had in my pocket,” Butts said.

The Ross coach said the West players wanted to break their losing streak in this series, but that was just part of the experience.

“It’s good to coach some of those guys that beat up on you during the high school season. It makes you appreciate talent,” Butts said. “You realize how great these kids are.

“Rivals get to bond and play together. A Badin boy and Ross boys playing together and rooting for each other. Harrison, Ross and Talawanda guys playing together and smacking five after banging heads during the year. It’s a neat thing to see.”

The West roster included running back Quintin Bailey and offensive lineman Devan Pankey of Hamilton, along with O-linemen Landon Johnson of Lakota West, Robert Behanan of Fairfield and Matt McKinney of Monroe.

On the East roster were linebacker Kevin Henry of Middletown; wide receiver Alex McCarty and O-lineman Eric Leichliter of Lebanon; and running back Bobby Brown of Lakota East.

Henry had a solo tackle and an assist, and McCarty caught one pass for 6 yards. Brown carried the ball five times for 9 yards, hauled in one aerial for 2 yards and returned two kickoffs for 42 yards.

West 29 7 13 14 — 63

East 7 7 7 22 — 43

W: Tyler Jones 25 pass from Malik Grove (Kyle Kostoff kick)

W: Tyree Elliott 39 run (Kostoff kick)

E: Tyler Renners 3 run (Hans Hinebaugh kick)

W: DeTaun Smith 80 pass from Will Marty (Josh Boland pass from Cory Roberson)

W: Roberson 21 pass from Smith (Kostoff kick)

E: Malik Bland 2 run (Hinebaugh kick)

W: Grove 1 run (Kostoff kick)

W: Roberson 8 run (Kostoff kick)

E: Tyler Flanigan 3 pass from Andrew Conover (Hinebaugh kick)

W: Smith 1 run (Kick failed)

E: Jarod Peters 14 pass from Bland (Hinebaugh kick)

W: Smith 65 run (Kostoff kick)

E: Flanigan 20 pass from Devyn Wood (Bland pass from Conover)

W: Elliott 15 pass from Marty (Kostoff kick)

E: Flanigan 65 pass from Wood (Hinebaugh kick)



W: Tyree Elliott 7-114, Malik Grove 8-101, DeTuan Smith 5-65, Justin Conners 7-37, Cory Roberson 5-6, Tyron Harper 2-0, Antonio Woods 1-(-9), Will Marty 2-(-9). E: Andrew Conover 3-35, Carson Aquino 5-31, Bobby Brown 5-9, Malik Bland 5-6, Tyler Renners 3-5, Devyn Wood 4-(-19)


W: Will Marty 6-10-1, 161 yards; Malik Grove 3-9-0, 51 yards; Cory Roberson 3-4-0, 38 yards; DeTuan Smith 1-1-0, 21 yards; Jamez Stallworth 1-3-0, 2 yards. E: Devyn Wood 16-29-0, 206 yards; Andrew Conover 8-25-1, 120 yards; Malik Bland 7-8-0, 101 yards; Bobby Brown 0-1-1, 0 yards


W: Tyler Jones 3-55, Tyron Harper 3-27, Darius Johnson 2-29, DeTuan Smith 1-80, Antonio Woods 1-35, Cory Roberson 1-21, Tyree Elliott 1-15, A.J. Glines 1-9, Chad Pinson 1-2. E: Tyler Flanigan 8-168, Jarod Peters 7-88, Malik Bland 6-97, Jarred Haggerty 4-32, Levi Sellers 2-11, Carson Aquino 1-26, Alex McCarty 1-6, Bobby Brown 1-2, Tyler Renners 1-(-3)

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