Springfield players highlight area participants in North-South All-Star Classic

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NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – While colleges are conducting spring football games this time of the year, there is also a big high school game taking place this Saturday, April 29th in Massillon, Ohio. The 72nd annual North-South All-Star Football Classic will take place at Paul Brown Stadium with small school representatives from Divisions IV, V, VI, and VII kicking off at noon, while seniors from the big schools in Divisions I, II, and III will play at 4 pm.

Among the seniors from small schools, this area is well represented with two players from Springfield, two from Ursuline, one from Crestview, Hubbard, Struthers, LaBrae and Warren JFK. Area coaches also include Jeff Bayuk from JFK, who will be the head coach of the North squad in the small school game, and Springfield Local’s Sean Guerriero serving as an assistant to Bayuk for the North team.

“It’s a great honor. I’m really excited, I’ve seen the roster, and to play with all those great athletes. I’m happy to be a part of it,” Springfield’s standout running back Frankie Centofanti remarked.

“It means a lot,” Tiger teammate Gabe Barnard added. “You work so hard for it and here it paid off.”

For Springfield to have two players selected is a reflection on the great season they had last year as they won the ITCL Red Tier, reached the regional quarterfinals, and finished with a 9-3 record. “To have two guys going just shows what kind of year we had,” Centofanti remarked.

For Centofanti and Barnard this game means even a little more, “Me and him have been best friends since pre-school and it’s great to get to play in an all-star game with him now. You think it’s over with the end of the season, but then we get the opportunity to play another one. We are definitely going to leave it all out there,” Centofanti said.

“It means a lot because we are best friends,” Barnard confirmed. “We’ve been best friends throughout middle school, high school, so yeah it means a lot to us.”

Then adding to the occasion, both will get to see their own coach on the sidelines Saturday afternoon. “It’s awesome. Like I said, you think it’s over with. You have your last ride, then guys get to reunite. It’s definitely a cool feeling and a nice remembrance.”

“It means a lot because he was my position coach for tight ends,” Barnard added. “So it means a lot.”

“Those two guys were great all year,” Guerriero remarked about Centofanti and Barnard. “Two of the hardest working kids and captains on the team. It’s an honor and privilege to be with them again. They put us in a good position throughout the season so it’s a good thing to spend one more game with them.”

Personally, Guerriero is honored to be chosen to coach in the game for the second time, “It’s definitely an honor to be the region 8 coach of the year and getting the recognition. But it definitely goes out to our players, they are the ones that really make it happen,” Guerriero said. “Our kids did a fantastic job this year of stepping up and playing. It’s just a reflection on our kids and how hard they worked and how well they did.”

The game is returning to northeast Ohio after having been played the past four years in Dayton, and was held in Columbus from 2001 to 2012. The last time the game was played in Massillon was in 1998.

“Just for our people to see it, I had Mark Schuler in the game two years ago and it was in Dayton. It was so hard, it was a five, six-hour drive to get there. But for our kids to be able to play a game in a stadium like Paul Brown and feel that atmosphere I think it’s going to be fun,” Guerriero said.

“It means a lot. We told all of our buddies and hopefully, they are all coming up along with friends and family. It’s going to be fun,” Centofanti added.

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