LANCASTER COUNTY, PA – All-star football games and defense are not typically mentioned in the same breath.
Conestoga Valley coach Gerad Novak is hoping to put the North team on the winning track.
That’s not expected to change Saturday night when the North meets the South in the Fifth Annual Lancaster-Lebanon League Tri-County All Star game, which gives outgoing seniors one last chance to play locally.
After four years at Manheim Central, the game will be played at Hempfield due to ongoing field construction in Manheim. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Elco’s Mark Evans will attempt to guide the North squad to its fifth-straight win in the series.
“Obviously you want to win, but it’s more than that,” said Evans. “You are developing relationships and working with new guys.”
This is not the first all-star coaching gig for Evans, who was an assistant in the 2002 East-West game as well as last year’s Big 33 clash.
“I’ve already seen a chemistry develop,” said Evans of the North unit. “During the season they don’t really like each other, but now they find a way to get along.”
The task of trying to beat the North for the first time falls on the shoulders of Conestoga Valley’s Gerad Novak. The offensive-minded coach is ready to pull out all the stops to break the slide.
“One of our goals is to put 50 points on the board,” said Novak. “The other goal is to have fun. There’s not going to be a whole lot of defense played. There’s going to be a lot of points scored and that’s what people want to see.”
The North squad has averaged 37 points a game since 2002, including a memorable 56-41 shootout in 2004. Last year, the North posted a 28-18 win.
“The game is designed to showcase the offense,” admitted Evans. “It’s a shootout that puts people in the seats.”
Evans’ offensive attack will be led by the quarterback tandem of Hempfield’s Mike Callahan and Manheim Central’s Brandon Miller.
Callahan, a second team Section One all star, threw for 1,485 yards and 14 TDs during the regular season and guided the Black Knights to within a point of knocking off Bishop McDevitt in the District Three Class AAAA playoffs.
Miller, a first-team all star, threw for 26 TDs and 1,667 yards as the Barons breezed through Section Two en route to their 15th straight district championship.
“Both have been solid,” said Evans of the QB combo. “We’ve put in some funky stuff for them. We’ll do some things that we probably won’t do during the regular season.”
Novak will employ two pretty good gunslingers of his own in McCaskey’s Lance Diamond and Wilson’s Eric Hetrich.
Hetrich threw for 1,997 yards and 22 TDs for the Bulldogs, who went 7-3. Diamond, meanwhile, threw for 1,702 yards and tossed 14 TD passes for the Tornado.
“Both have thrown very well in practice. They both understand what’s going on.”
And they will need to with some of the offensive wizardry Novak is expected to cook up.
“They’ve done a good job learning lots of crazy things I like to run,” said Novak. “I’m going to throw a lot of things at them. We definitely want to have some fun. We’ll do some things you may not normally do. We want it to be exciting and fun.”
by Joel Schreiner
Intelligencer Journal Correspondent