FOSTORIA - Unfamiliarity is part of every all-star game experience, but that's where the coach steps in to add stability. Usually.
For Carey's Todd Worst, taking part in this year's Fostoria Athletic Boosters East-West All-Star Game has him just a little more out of his element than the players under him.
"Let's just say there was a sigh of relief when I told them we're not running triple option," he said to laughter at Monday's press conference for the game. "At the night of pictures, I said 'We're not running the wishbone,' and they went, 'Oh, good.'"
But that means a little bit of learning on all sides.
For Worst, who'll enter his seventh season at his alma mater this fall to continue the Blue Devil option football tradition, that means creating plays out of the I formation and single-back set.
For the players, it means a familiar offensive look that's heavier on the run than many of them are used to.
"Over the past few years, it seems like the team that can run the ball ends up winning, usually, so we'll definitely make our attempt at running it," Worst said.
Plenty of area talent will put that to the test Saturday at 7 p.m. when the East and West tangle for the 29th time at Memorial Stadium, as 21 local players help fill out the East roster.
Columbian's Ben Davis (6-1, 180) will direct the run-centric offense, and is already showing promise, Worst said.
"He does a pretty nice job. Coming into it, we'd heard that he wasn't a very good runner, but he seems to have very good feet and he's making some plays we didn't expect him to make with his feet," he said. "I've been pretty impressed with that so far.
"Our linemen up front I think are going to do a nice job," he added. "They seem to work together pretty well after only three days. As long as we get them off the ball at the same time we'll be all right."
Meanwhile, Arcadia's Paul Shoemaker is also pleased with the offensive look of his West team.
He joked that he told the West players they would run the triple option, but his squad will work out of the pro set and spread formations.
But like the East, the run will figure mightily into the game plan.
"We'll try to run it, too. Like (Worst) said, in the past the team that can run the ball wins the games, so we'll definitely try to run it," said Shoemaker, a Columbian graduate.
"Plus, we don't have receivers who can run down the field every play right now without needing a break," he said.
However, Shoemaker said Findlay's Ben Kupferberg (5-10, 170) should provide a good punch at running back, while the coaches and Cory-Rawson quarterback Jeremiah Alspach (101 of 228 for 1,444 yards) were happy to see Leipsic's Greg Berger (5-11, 215), Ross Benton (6-1, 260) and Josh Turnwald (6-3, 240) on the offensive line.
"He might have had the biggest smile on his face as anybody when they pulled up," Shoemaker said of Alspach.
Both coaches also said talent can be found on defense.
Worst praised Hopewell-Loudon linebacker Eric Depinet (6-0, 200), and cornerbacks David Bodie (5-18, 150) of Norwalk and Shane Hossler (6-2, 175) of Columbian. He also called Columbian's Jonah Boyer (slot receiver, free safety) a 5-8, 170-pound jack of all trades who could wind up as one of the few players who plays on both sides of the ball.
Shoemaker's defensive highlights include inside linebacker Garrett Schling (5-11, 220) of Arcadia and defensive end Matt Dillon (6-2, 215) of Findlay.
But no matter who plays where, each coach said the talent and knowledge of a team of all-stars are blessings.
"The enjoy it. The best thing about it is, these guys love football or they wouldn't be here," Shoemaker said. "They don't need that extra kick in the butt to get motivated, they're ready to go.
"We tell these kids one time 'this is what we want you to do,' and that's all the more you have to tell them, one time," he said. "It's a lot of fun."