CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – Sometimes we take things for granted, but for a handful of players participating in the 38th annual Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic all-star football game Thursday night, it means something special.
For some, it is a dream they have had for many years. For others, it is a bittersweet ending to a spectacular high school career. And for two other players, they are making a bit of history by participating in the game.
“It’s been a goal my whole high school career,” Salem’s talented tight end and linebacker Jake Humeniuk admitted. “So I’m more than happy to be a part of this. I get to play with a lot of my friends and with those, I played against. I’m really excited.”
One of those teammates that he played against was West Branch’s, Mitchel Craig. Thursday night, these two former arch-rivals will line up side-by-side at tackle and tight end.
“It’s weird because we are rivals,” Humeniuk said with a chuckle. “But Mitch and I off the field are really good friends. But it’s definitely weird, I can say that for sure.”
For two players from Struthers in Robbie Best and Trent Stocker, they are making history as this is the first year that players from the Wildcats will participate in the game. The Wildcats head coach Curt Kuntz just joined the Quad County Coaches Association this year, making it possible for them to have players involved in this contest.
“It’s truly an honor to represent the city of Struthers and to have Robbie Best along with me to represent Ohio too,” Stocker remarked. “It’s a good feeling.”
“We carpool out here so it’s a good time. I’m having a blast so far,” Stocker said about playing with Best one last time.
“I love goofing around with him, and all the other guys,” Best added. “We’re just goofing around and having a good time at practice.”
“I’m excited about it,” Best said about being named to the team. “I love the game of football, so I get another chance to play. It’s definitely something I’ll cherish.”
For one Columbiana County player, in particular, this game is the end of a stellar high school career. Columbiana’s Mitch Davidson holds just about every offensive record in Clippers history and some Columbiana County records too. Davidson isn’t playing football in college, so this will be his last organized football game.
“It means a lot,” Davidson said of the importance of being named to the team. “All of these guys here are all-stars. So to be in the same game as them and to be on the same roster is definitely exciting. Getting to know the guys I played against the past four years is a little different, but I’m starting to like it. And we’re really connecting and making a lot of new friends here.”
“It’s exciting. I have one last time to go out there and try to get a W with your friends. Knowing it’s my last game I’m definitely going to give it my all. I have nothing to lose. Put everything into this one game and hopefully get a victory,” Davidson remarked about it being his last game.
“For sure,” Davidson confirmed when asked if he is savoring this experience. “This is the last time I’ll step on the football field so getting to be with these guys and practice one last time is definitely very sweet.”
And with Lisbon’s Jim Tsilimos coaching the Ohio team is focused on being able to establish a running game. Players like South Range’s Nathan Danizewski, who was a staple of the Raiders rushing attack looks to play a key role in Thursday’s contest.
“It excites me. I like that,” Danizewski admitted. “I like to score. One more shot at the end zone.”
“It means a lot. Having one more game to go,” Danizewski added about being named to the team. “It’s an honor to be playing in this game, but I’m just trying to go there and get a win.”
The game at Reeves Stadium at Geneva College is set to have player introductions at 6:30 and kickoff at 7:00 pm. Last year the Ohio team won in dramatic fashion 10-7, but Pennsylvania leads the overall series 26-11.