They've done a lot of sweating and had a lot of fun this week, and Saturday it's time for the players in the Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association All-Star Game to actually play the game.
Game time is 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium, where the Black Squad coached by Jeremy Clodfelder of Paris takes on the Gold Squad mentored by Brian Crabtree of North Vermillion.
"Both teams are filled with really good football players," Clodfelder said this week. "I'm expecting our group to compete, to have fun most of all, and to represent themselves, their families and the programs they came from with a lot of class."
"I hope it's down to the wire and we have the ball at the end and win at the horn," said Crabtree.
Neither of the head coaches, chosen because of their team's success in the fall, were unfamiliar with the routines this week — the 15th WVFCA All-Star game, South Vermillion coach Greg Barrett pointed out — and both were enjoying their work.
"I've seen some pretty good football this week so far," Crabtree said. "I really like our running backs. We have three pretty talented runners [Levon Bellemy of Edgewood, Damon Moody of Greencastle and M.J. Shelton of Northview] who have been breaking ankles this week in practice."
"I like us up front," said Clodfelder, whose crop of linemen includes his own all-state tackle Jacob Gates, "and we have some skilled kids with a chance to be playmakers.
"Defensively we have a group that can run around and hit," he continued, "and hopefully make tackles in space."
One of the skilled players on the Black Squad is Terre Haute South's Jase Dressler, who said he was enjoying "everything" about the week.
"This is a one-time-in-a-lifetime experience," the South running back said. "Not everybody gets a chance to play in this game, and I'm blessed that I did.
"I feel like it will be a close game, but I feel like the Black Squad will come out on top."
Terre Haute North center Jack Sherman might disagree with Dressler's prediction, but not about the value of the week.
"It's been a really good week," Sherman said. "Everybody's practicing hard and we're bonding as a team as well. It's nice to be around people with the same passions as you."
Players and coaches had pizza at the close of Thursday's practice, then had some serious business to take care of. Several scholarships will be presented at Saturday night's game, some of the recipients chosen by their teammates and some chosen by the coaches. Academic awards also will be given.