Prep football: Locals ready for annual SWOFCA East-West All-Star Game

Andrew Redemeier is thrilled to extend his football career one more game.

The recent Ross High School graduate thought his career ended last fall when the Rams finished their season with an 18-7 win over Talawanda on Oct. 26.

Then not too long ago he got a text asking if he wanted to play in the 44th Southwestern Ohio Football Coaches Association Ron Woyan East-West All-Star Game. He didn’t need much time to think about that.

PREVIOUS JOURNAL-NEWS COVERAGE

» 2018: East 34, West 19

» 2017: East 23, West 7

» 2016:East 21, West 12

» 2015: East 40, West 20

» 2014: West 63, East 43

“I was like, ‘All right, let’s go,’ ” said Redemeier, who’s moving on from football and will be attending the University of Cincinnati to be a pre-business major. “I thought our last game at Ross was the last ride and went through all the emotions with that. Now it’s another ‘one last game.’ It’s just insane to think about it. But now I know this is it, my last game ever.”

The defensive tackle is scheduled to be one of nine players from the Journal-News coverage area who will be playing for the West in Thursday night’s annual showcase event at Kings.

There is only one local player on the East roster. That’s Middletown wide receiver Shandon Morris, who finished third in the high jump at the Division I state track meet in Columbus last weekend.

“It’s a great feeling because there’s like a thousand kids that could’ve been in this all-star game and I was picked to be one of them,” Morris said. “I feel blessed to be able to play. I’m a little rusty, but it’ll come back. It’s natural.”

The East leads this series 25-18 and has dominated of late, winning 11 of the last 12 meetings. Morris wants to keep things trending in that direction.

“We’re going to keep dominating them,” he said with a smile. “Having fun is important, but winning is the key.”

Waynesville’s Scott Jordan is the East head coach. He said he’s aware of how important winning this game is to current and former East coaches and players.

“It’s funny,” Jordan said. “Coach (Andy) Olds from Kings came out and was talking to the team and the first thing he said was, ‘Hey, the East has had a lot of success in this game. Let’s keep that success going.’

Andrew Redemeier of Ross

“Last week I talked to a couple guys who have coached on the East side the last couple years and they said, ‘Hey man, keep it going. Keep the East on the winning side.’ So there’s definitely pride on the East side to keep the streak alive.”

Of course, the feeling is different on the other side. Northwest’s Lee Johnson is the West head coach, and he said he doesn’t have to say anything to his players about the desire to reverse the tide.

“It’s out there on social media. They mention it every time they get a chance,” Johnson said. “The big thing I’ve struggled with is trying to calm them down. They’re going at this full bore. I’ve had to ease them back so we can make it to the game.”

“It’s a pretty big deal because we just want to stop that losing streak,” Redemeier said. “It’s not fun to lose your last game.”

Has the time come for the West’s first victory since 2014?

“Well, I’ll tell you this,” Johnson said. “We’ve got some horses in the stable, and they’re ready to go. I’m ready to race.”

Redemeier had an opportunity to play at the next level. Urbana University made him an offer as a punter, but he decided against it.

He punted last fall for Ross, but is slated to just play on the D-line Thursday. Harrison’s Kyle Farfsing is scheduled to be the West’s place-kicker and punter.

“It’s been really fun meeting everyone and talking about their seasons. Everyone’s friendly,” said Redemeier, admitting he hadn’t met any of his West teammates prior to starting practice last week. “It’s been a while since I’ve played, so I’ve got to get all the aches out. It’s worth it.”

Redemeier, who’s been playing football for more than a decade, said he’ll miss playing for Ross. The Rams went 5-5 in 2018 after posting a 3-17 record the previous two years.

“It was a fun last year,” Redemeier said. “It’s nice to see what we did the last few years and how everything changed my senior year. Hopefully they just keep going up.”

Morris also feels strongly about his time at Middletown, even though he didn’t get to experience many victories in a purple uniform. The Middies were 3-27 over the last three seasons.

“We didn’t have great success, but at the end of the day, we’re still a family,” Morris said. “I’m excited about playing at the next level, but it’s still pretty tough playing somewhere and growing a brotherhood and then having to split because of college.”

Morris will be playing NCAA Division II football at Notre Dame College in northeast Ohio and is scheduled to report Aug. 10. He plans to major in sport management.

The state track meet nearly turned into a championship experience for Morris. He matched his personal best with a jump of 6 feet, 10 inches, but that was an inch short of state champion Lonnie Harper of Wooster.

“I felt really good up there. I felt really loose and ready to jump, so I just had to execute,” Morris said. “I wanted first place, but third-best in the state is still a great feeling.”

He hopes to make an impact with the East’s offense Thursday. The all-star rules are designed to favor the offense — the defenses have to run a 50, use man-to-man coverage and can’t blitz — and that’s no surprise.

“We want to get the ball out to the fast guys and let us run,” Morris said. “It’s going to be pretty fun for the wideouts using our speed, running routes, scoring and cheering each other on.”

Jordan said his crew of skill kids is impressive, including Morris and Princeton’s Jermaine Wimpye as wideouts and Kings’ Nak’emon Williams at running back. All three competed in the state track meet.

Shandon Morris of Middletown

Josh Taylor of Western Brown and Anthony Carmichael of Waynesville are the East’s quarterbacks, and Jordan said Josh Anderson of New Richmond could play some QB as well. He’s doing a little bit of everything and will walk on at Marshall University in the fall.

“We’ve got a lot of guys we can get the football to and feel pretty confident about,” Jordan said.

Each team was able to practice seven times. The players were nominated by their coaches, and the 44-man rosters were then selected by the all-star coaches.

Game organizer Ross Baker said one change this year will be allowing players to be more NFL-like when it comes to celebrations. They won’t get penalized for that.

“I’ll tell you what, it’s been a blast,” Jordan said. “I’ve found myself each day in the afternoon just ready to go to practice. You get a little football in May and June, and that’s fun. It’s been really cool to watch these kids come together from all over the city. They’re forming bonds and picking each other up.”

He was an assistant coach for the East in 2010 and enjoyed a victory that night. Johnson said he’s 0-2 as an all-star assistant coach, once in this game and once in Tennessee.

Johnson likes the speed and athleticism on his roster and said his quarterbacks — Cleveland Farmer of Taft, Michael Crawford of Mount Healthy and Dae’Mon Cherry of Northwest — bring a variety of skills. He said Mount Healthy’s Ty Mincy has stood out amid several top-notch running backs.

“You get used to working with all these toys and you try to utilize them to the best of their ability and showcase them, but you also have to pare down the offense to make sure it’s something everybody can understand,” Johnson said.

“I think the hardest thing to do in football is pass. You’ve got to have a line working in sync. You’ve got to have a quarterback working in sync with the receivers. You’ve got to have the backfield lined up right. It’s the hardest thing to get worked out in a short amount of time.”

He said the players have been committed to working hard and trying to get the West back on the winning track.

“Coaching in a game like this, you can see all the successful programs and all these kids they’re producing,” Johnson said. ‘Not just their talent level, but how much they care about football and how they get after it.”

Additional players from the Journal-News coverage area listed on the West roster are Hamilton’s Daveon Williams, Fairfield’s Ha’jiere Pitts, Allen Caldwell and Mekiyell Muhammad, Edgewood’s Elijah Williams, Monroe’s Tyler Hendricks, Talawanda’s Christopher Richardson and Badin’s Andrew Jones.

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