Nak’emon Williams of Kings opened the scoring with a 75-yard sprint to the end zone late in the first quarter and added an 8-yard TD less than three minutes later, helping the East rush to a 20-0 halftime lead.
Among the special-teams highlights for the winners were two blocked punts by Sycamore’s Brian Doneghy, who returned one for a touchdown, and a 91-yard kickoff return for a TD to open the second half by Walnut Hills’ Andre Allen Jr.
“They like that winning streak on the East Side. They want to keep it going,” said Waynesville’s Scott Jordan, the East head coach. “We did our part to keep the streak alive, and our guys loved it. Now it’s up to the next group. They’ll talk about the streak again next year.”
Western Brown quarterback Josh Taylor chipped in a scoring run for the East. Waynesville’s Anthony Carmichael also connected with Princeton’s Jermaine Wimpye for a TD.
Jordan said it was a total team effort for the East that included quality assistant coaching from Barak Faulk of Mason, Gregg Pickett of Milford, Justin Isaacs of Summit Country, Scott Cook of Little Miami and Zach Edwards of Middletown.
“It was a great night, a great two weeks,” Jordan said. “From Day 1, I told the coaches to build a relationship with these guys. I said, ‘If you get to know them, you’ll love them,’ and the kids responded to them.
“We never had any issues in practice or on the sideline. They listened to us and jelled tonight. We were subbing guys in and out all night, and there was no complaining. I’m going to miss them this week. It was great to go out this way.”
The biggest margins in this game came in 35-0 victories for the West in 1991 and 2006.
The West didn’t come close to finding that kind of success in this matchup, trailing 33-0 before getting on the board with a 1-yard touchdown run by Mount Healthy’s Ty Mincy with 9:14 left in the game.
Middletown’s Shandon Morris (4) shares a laugh with East teammates Andre Allen Jr. (14) and Caleb Diersing (81) of Walnut Hills on Thursday night during the 44th Southwestern Ohio Football Coaches Association Ron Woyan East-West All-Star Game at Kings Stadium. The East won 39-7. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
“Our defense played well,” said Jordan, who got two sacks apiece from Withrow’s CeAyre Hall, Cincinnati Country Day’s Sterling Snell and Walnut Hills’ Caleb Diersing. “We thought all week that our defensive front was going to be the difference, and they lived up to it.”
Northwest quarterback Dae’Mon Cherry paced the West with 68 yards on 11 carries. Cherry, Mount Healthy’s Michael Crawford and Taft’s Cleveland Farmer combined to complete 13-of-27 passes for 98 yards.
“It just came down to them making plays and us not making plays,” said Northwest’s Lee Johnson, the West head coach. “Execution on special teams hurt us and put our defense in bad situations. The score really should’ve been 6-0 instead of 20-0 at halftime.
“That really put us behind the eight ball, and we were kind of pressing from that point on. Everybody’s not playing it natural, your mesh is not as comfortable as it had been in practice and we’re off on our timing as far as our passing game goes, and it all adds up.”
Fairfield wide receiver Ha’jiere Pitts was a bright spot for the West. He caught four passes for 22 yards and nearly scored a touchdown on a kickoff return in the fourth quarter, taking the ball 89 yards before getting caught at the East 8-yard line.
“I was very disappointed. I thought I was going to score on that one, but I got tired,” Pitts said. “I didn’t know there was somebody behind me, but that’s what they told me.”
His return came in the final three minutes of the game. Pitts went backward to follow the ball as it bounced inside his 5-yard line, then picked it up and took off.
“It was the end of the game,” Pitts said. “I had to give it a try. I just wanted to return it.”
He said even with the loss, the all-star experience was memorable. Pitts is moving on to play junior-college football at Hocking College in Nelsonville.
“We knew what we had to do to get the dub, but the outcome was different,” he said. “We tried though. We didn’t just let them do what they did. We were out there working hard and giving everything we’ve got. It just wasn’t enough.”
Fairfield’s Ha’jiere Pitts (12) of the West tries to get away from Sycamore’s Brian Doneghy (6) of the East as Mount Healthy quarterback Michael Crawford (5) scrambles with the ball Thursday night during the 44th Southwestern Ohio Football Coaches Association Ron Woyan East-West All-Star Game at Kings Stadium. The East won 39-7. RICK CASSANO/STAFF
Johnson echoed that sentiment and said he was grateful for the opportunity to lead the West. He said game organizer Ross Baker deserved credit for his efforts.
“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but it was a very positive experience, and I got to see kids,” Johnson said. “We hear a lot about millennials and the kids these days in regards to not working and expecting stuff, and these kids came to work and put forth a good effort. They were competitors and unselfish and tried to do what they could.”
Morris is headed to Notre Dame College to play NCAA Division II ball. He said he’ll miss playing for Middletown, but it’s time to take the next step.
“I get to do what I love and play football,” Morris said. “I’m ready to go.”
Competing for the West were Talawanda’s Andrew Marcum and Christopher Richardson, Edgewood’s Elijah Williams, Hamilton’s Daveon Williams, Fairfield’s Allen Caldwell and Mekiyell Muhammad, Monroe’s Tyler Hendricks and Ross’ Andrew Redemeier. Richardson blocked an extra point.
Fairfield’s Will Amburgey was an assistant coach for the West.
E: Nak'emon Williams 75 run (Kick failed)
E: Williams 8 run (Cam Anderson kick)
E: Brian Doneghy 6 blocked punt return (Anderson kick)
E: Andre Allen Jr. 91 kickoff return (Anderson kick)
E: Josh Taylor 24 run (Kick failed)
W: Ty Mincy 1 run (Kyle Farfsing kick)
E: Jermaine Wimpye 18 pass from Anthony Carmichael (Kick failed)
EAST 26, WEST 18
1971 — West 23-12; 1972 — East 37-21; 1973 — East 20-8; 1974 — East 12-8; 1975 — East 14-7; 1976 — East 22-7; 1977 — East 35-14; 1978 — West 22-7; 1979 — East 17-14; 1985 — West 15-14; 1986 — West 15-8; 1987 — West 35-14; 1988 — West 10-6; 1989 — East 18-6; 1990 — West 24-20; 1991 — West 35-0; 1992 — West 25-7; 1993 — West 27-6; 1994 — East 8-3; 1995 — West 24-18; 1996 — West 19-17; 1997 — East 18-0; 1998 — East 23-14; 1999 — West 14-13; 2000 — East 18-7; 2001 — East 21-16; 2002 — West 21-17; 2003 — West 6-0; 2004 — East 26-13; 2005 — West 42-19; 2006 — West 35-0; 2007 — East 28-18; 2008 — East 41-21; 2009 — East 42-35; 2010 — East 21-13; 2011 — East 39-35; 2012 — East 17-14; 2013 — East 21-19; 2014 — West 63-43; 2015 — East 40-20; 2016 — East 21-12; 2017 — East 23-7; 2018 — East 34-19; 2019 — East 39-7