By Andy Amey
TERRE HAUTE — Because the high school football season is so short — and because almost all of its games are played on the same night every week — the annual Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association All-Star game will probably continue to remain one of my highlight events of every year.
Judging by the number of fans who sat out in 90-degree weather to watch it on Saturday night, it appears others may share that opinion.
Thanks to conference affiliations and to the job description that gives me a Vigo County team to watch each Friday, there are a lot of names in the Wabash Valley that I know only from telephone exchanges much later on those Friday nights. If I see North Central play, for example, it’s almost always the Panthers from Indianapolis and not the Thunderbirds from Farmersburg.
There are plenty of high school football players around here that I rarely get to see — or more importantly, walk their sideline.
Thus my opinion that the WVFCA is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and that First Financial Bank and the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau deserve pats on the back for helping the enterprise get off the ground. Ditto to Sir Thomas Automotive, Pete Varda and anyone else who kicks in money for scholarships for so many of the players.
With that, a couple of observations on Saturday’s game.
• Statistical issues — Rockville’s Aaron Bridge probably has the Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association All-Star game record for most passes announced as having caught without catching any.
Bridge and Terre Haute North’s Frank Willis — who caught four balls for 28 yards in Saturday’s game on my stat sheet — were both wearing No. 5 for the North All-Stars. Both are about the same size. And to make matters worse, Bridge was wearing a Terre Haute North helmet just like Willis was.
Like I said, I think Frank caught all four (and Aaron himself told me Frank caught the first two; I didn’t have a chance to ask about the others). But if I’m on the sideline and I can’t tell for sure, I can’t imagine how frustrating it was for the public address announcer and for Kevin Lanke and his Rose-Hulman stat crew up in the box.
The three No. 4s in the North lineup, by the way, were a little easier to sort out. Matt King of Rockville, the tallest one, was playing quarterback and occasionally wide receiver. Kameron Silcock of West Vigo was the one gaining yardage in the middle. And Jarrett Ban of North Putnam was the one breaking away for long receptions or punt returns.
• Speaking of Rose-Hulman — I’m thinking that Rose-Hulman coach Steve Englehart is going to enjoy Casey’s Mitch Snyder.
Snyder’s 27-yard bullet to Billy Sisson of North in the third quarter was the eye-opening throw of the night, and he even showed a lot more maneuverability than I realized he had when he pulled the ball down and gained seven yards on one play. But it’s the arm that Steve is going to like.
Mitch throws a lot like that kid I spotted as a freshman at Terre Haute North’s Midnight Madness practice quite a few years ago (or when he was North’s ball boy before that). What was that North kid’s name again?
• Speaking of North Putnam — Greg Barrett and Tom Jones were the two people crazy enough to think this all-star game might work in the first place, so I’ll always have a soft spot for them for that. But, as I’ve already told Greg, I have bad news for him.
After three of the most prominent players Saturday were Ban, Seth Vondesaar and Josh Keyt of his Cougars, he’s not going to be nearly as good a coach next year. And the North Putnam guy who was supposed to be the best of the four, Griffin Dahlstrom, didn’t even play because of recent shoulder surgery.
• The only bad news — I half-eavesdropped my way into finding out the news about the automobile accident involving Rockville underclassman Billy Bettis. Join me in praying for his full recovery, and maybe we’ll see him back in uniform pretty soon.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. for comments or news items at (812) 231-4277 or 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at email@example.com; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.