Ohio-Michigan Border Classic All-Star Game Set for June 2014
By Tony Gerdeman
High school senior football players (Class of 2014) from Ohio and Michigan will play in the first annual Ohio-Michigan Border Classic next year, per a release from the game's organizers. The contest will take place on Saturday, June 14, 2014, at Donnell Stadium in Findlay, Ohio.
The game will pit 40 players from Ohio against 40 players from Michigan. The Ohio High School Football Coaches Association (OHSFCA) and the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) will each select a head coach and five assistants. Each coaching staff will then select the 40 players from their respective states. Those selections will be announced in February at the Ohio-Michigan Border Classic press conference.
The game became a possibility thanks to Ohio's previous relationship with Pennsylvania and the Big 33 Classic ending last October when Pennsylvania decided to drop Ohio and sign a five-year deal with Maryland. Ohio had beaten Pennsylvania four years in a row prior to being dropped.
With Pennsylvania out of the picture, talk turned in Ohio to another possible opponent.
“It was Mike Mauk (Kenton High School head coach) and I, we talked about it when Pennsylvania dropped us," said John McCallister, who helped organize the event.
"The coaches and players that played in the Big 33 game always considered it a tremendous experience, so we said 'Well let's see if Michigan would be interested in playing a game.' So I reached out to a couple of people higher up in their football coaches association, and they liked the idea."
The game was originally slated to take place at the University of Toledo, until the NCAA stepped in. The NCAA doesn't allow a Division I university to host a game if there is a non-sanctioned team playing. Ohio's all-star teams are sanctioned by the OHSAA, but Michigan's all-star team holds no such sanctioning.
"Donnell Stadium is as close as we could get to the border," McCallister explained. "I was trying to get it as close to Michigan as I could."
Ohio will continue to play its existing in-state all-star game, the Ohio North-South Classic, which takes place in the spring. Players will also be able to play in both all-star games. Michigan's East-West high school all-star game, however, will be ending in favor of the Border Classic.
All-star games have taken a hit over the last decade due to early enrollees and summer school. However, both Ohio and Michigan intend to bring in the best that each state has to offer.
"We'll have the best that we can have," McCallister said. "It'll be a very good competitive game, and obviously we're going to have good coaches and good athletes playing."
Mauk (Treasurer-OHSFCA) and Larry Merx (Executive Director-MHSFCA) have announced that all profits from this game will be dedicated to the scholarship funds already established by their respective coaching associations.
Players will report on the Wednesday prior to the game.
"The players are going to stay in the dorms at the University of Findlay. Findlay has agreed to house them, and given them use of the cafeteria, and things like that. We're really fortunate that we can do that."
There will be an awards banquet Friday night and the game will kickoff at 1:00 pm on Saturday.
"We started this back in January, talking about it," McCallister said of the event. "For us, it was because it's just such a neat experience to play another state. And with Michigan being so natural, although we don't use words like 'rivalry' or 'border war'. The game is about building relationships.
"We're not trying to be the Ohio State – Michigan game. We're trying to build relationships between coaches and players from both states. It's not a grudge battle, and it's not a war. The primary objective is to build relationships."
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