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North All-Stars dominate WVFCA contest

Monday, June 27, 2011

(Photo)
North Putnam's Travis Franklin led all rushers with 75 yards on five carries and a touchdown. [Order this photo]
TERRE HAUTE -- North Putnam's Travis Franklin, Aaron Vondersaar and Jordan Murphy capped a 35-2 victory for the North All-Stars on Saturday night in the Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association All-Star Game.

Greencastle's Jesse Vermillion, South Putnam's Jake Gould, Dean Varvel and Adam Zigler and Cloverdale's Matt Hall also made huge impacts for the South All-Stars in the seventh annual contest played at Indiana State University's Memorial Stadium.

The North All-Stars prevailed for the third straight year and the sixth time in seven contests. But the final score didn't seem to matter to players from either the winning or losing team.

"It was fun. Everybody was just laid back. Everybody had a good time. It was just another opportunity to play football," Hall said.

For some, like Hall, Greencastle's Vermillion and North Putnam's Vondersaar and Murphy, it was the last game of their playing careers.

"It was another chance to play football again. I loved my teammates. I had a good time," Vermillion said.

"It was fun. There was a lot of competition, but I could tell throughout the week we were going to give (the South) a good game, the way our players played (in practice)," Vondersaar said.

And for some players, the All-Star contest was a preview to the talent level they will face at the college level.

Adam Ziegler of South Putnam knows he has to 'beef up' in the Rose-Hulman weight room.

"It was nice to get to meet new guys, play with a team you haven't played with before. It was a good experience. I wish (the score) could have gone better, but it happens," Zigler said.

The North All-Stars, with big contributions from North Putnam's Class 2A state runner-up team, led from start to finish. In fact, the South All-Stars' two points came off a safety when a center snap sailed over the head of the North quarterback and out of the end zone.

"We were excited about (getting a shutout). We just wanted to put up as many points as we could and not let them score any," North Putnam's Murphy said.

North Putnam's Franklin and Greencastle's Vermillion led their respective teams in rushing.

Franklin, who will play at the University of Indianapolis this fall, led all ball carriers with 75 yards on five carries, including a 51-yard run for the game's final touchdown.

"I got some amazing blocks, so that helped out a lot and then I hit the corner and turned on the jets," Franklin said of the touchdown.

Vermillion reported to practice thinking he was going to be a linebacker. He carried the ball a game-high 12 times for 50 yards.

"I didn't stay in shape enough (for that many carries). I was going to be a linebacker, then (the coaches) converted me (to running back). I got a lot more carries than I thought I was going to get. It caught me off guard," Vermillion said.

South Putnam's Jake Gould, who was awarded the Brett Eitel Scholarship during the contest, became the South All-Star punter early in the game. The starting punter injured an ankle in the opening quarter and Gould stepped in average 38 yards on five punts.

The North All-Stars led 7-0 after the first period, but it could have been worse. Dean Varvel of South Putnam, who will play at Rose-Hulman, intercepted a North pass in the end zone to keep South close going into the second period.

"I just happened to be in the right place at the right time on the interception. I got it off a tip. I just need to know where I'm at, though, because I should have got down, instead of trying to run it out of the end zone. But it worked out okay," Varvel said.

The North All-Stars led 21-0 at halftime. The South offense could not get going. The South All-Stars had just two first downs in the first half.

"(The North) had field position. Our offense wasn't moving the ball, so they were on our side of the 50 most of the first half," Varvel said.

The South defense stiffened and shut out North in the third quarter. But North still led 21-2 going into the fourth quarter.

On North's first possession of the fourth quarter, South's defense came up with a series of big plays.

First, South Putnam's Varvel stopped the North receiver short of a first down. On the next play it was South Putnam's Zigler making a tackle, then Cloverdale's Josh Burdette and Hall made back-to-back tackles. Then the South came up with an interception and a chance to score.

But it wasn't menat to be for the South All-Stars, as two North Putnam players squashed the opportunity.

Murphy hit South quarterback Gryfen Brinson of Owen Valley and knocked the ball free. Vondersaar scooped up the ball at the 4-yard line and dive into the end zone for the touchdown.

"The quarterback went for an option right away and I got around the tackle and hit him as he was trying to pitch (the ball) and the ball came loose," Murphy said.

"I just saw my cousin hit the ball out. I always wanted to make a touchdown as a defensive end," Vondersaar said.

And Franklin's 51-yard touchdown run capped the night.

"It was just fun to get to know people, get to play some good competition. Just get another game in with everyone from North Putnam one last time,' Franklin said.