Players and coaches often say they're honored when chosen for all-star games, but tonight's game is a little more special for Todd Fox than the next guy.
Fox, fresh off guiding Calvert to a 9-3 mark and a playoff berth in his second year with the Senecas, will guide the North team tonight in the Buckeye Superstore/McDonald's All-Star Football Classic at Lexington High School.
The game itself is nothing new for Fox. He served as an assistant to Buckeye Central's Jason Ratliff a few years ago after representing alma mater Willard in the 1991 game.
However, he's in charge tonight, returning to a game from which he received a scholarship more than two decades earlier.
"It was a great honor. This game especially feels a little more special to me. As a player I received a scholarship. I feel I owed them and to come back is a great honor," Fox said. "I know the people who run this and they're great people."
The game kicks off at 7 p.m., with tickets $8 at the gate. Along with providing area seniors one more chance to suit up, the game's annual purpose is award $1,000 scholarships to 12 or more players each year.
Several of those players vying for scholarships tonight will be familiar.
The North will feature eight Calvert players: Nate Mathias (OL), Alex Recker (OL), Nathan Somers (DL), Ben Nielsen (DL), Matt Frank (DB), Stephen Smith (K), Joe Brickner (TE), Matt Buchman (RB) and Nathan Ritzler (QB, DB).
"It's a great honor to be able to coach my seniors from last year one more time in this game. It's a nice cap to our season," Fox said.
There's also plenty of talent.
Buckeye Central's Tyler Erwin, the Division IV Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Ohioan, will handle quarterbacking duties, while fellow first-team All-Ohioan and teammate Justin Herrnstein will line up at receiver.
Other area players include Buckeye Central's Adam Paynter (WR, LB), Bryce Collins (OL, DL) and Jordan Wright (OL, DL), Seneca East's Kyle Depinet (WR, LB) and Jamie Schafer (WR, DB), and Upper Sandusky's Adam Duress (TE, DB).
The North will also have a record-setting quarterback in Ashland's Zach Bernard, and a speedster at running back in Crestview's Mason Minnich, who ran for nearly 2,500 yards last year before taking second in the 100-meter dash this spring at the Division III state track meet.
Though a run-oriented coach, Fox said game rules encourage a more open offensive attack. He said that's fine with him, though it gives him a pleasant challenge when the North has the ball.
"It puts more pressure on a coach to highlight what they can do. It's fun. You can almost do any kind of play and put the ball in the hands of a playmaker," he said.
"In the regular season, you work to get the ball into your playmakers' hands," he said. "Here, everybody's a playmaker and we get to see how that goes for us."