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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Osborne and Kennedy shine during the East/West All Star Game

West stops East 38-7 in Northern Kentucky all-star showcase
The East was easy pickings for the West, losing 38-7 after throwing nine interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, in Thursday’s 30th edition of the Snappy Tomato Pizza Northern Kentucky All-Star Football Game presented by UC Health/NovaCare.
“That’s what happens when you throw the ball around,” said West defensive back Jordan Smith.
Smith, a recent Scott High School graduate, was one of 79 seniors who suited up a final time after being nominated by members of the Northern Kentucky Football Coaches’ Association. He shared the honor with his brother, Jacob Smith of Scott. Players walked through the Rice-Mountjoy Stadium field gate known as Irene McCracken Way, with Irene McCracken presiding in her 53rd year as a Dixie game-day staple.
The showcase, produced by In-Game Sports, returned after a one-year absence and attracted more than 1,500 spectators, who were treated to a game of giveaway by the East and many happy returns for the West.
Jordan Smith picked off a second-quarter pass from Covington Catholic’s Blake Bir, and, remarkably, finished fourth on the team in interceptions.
Ryle’s Daniel Osborne and Raider teammate Nick Kennedy, a track and field regional champion and state-qualifying sprinter and long-jumper, picked off three passes a piece for the West. Osborne’s interceptions came in the first half. Simon Kenton’s Jared Swanson added two picks for the winners.
“Good coverage. It’s as simple as that,” said Osborne, a 6-foot-3 linebacker.
Bir, a record-breaking passer at CovCath and a University of Dayton recruit, was not responsible for all of the interceptions thrown by the East. Campbell County’s Tyler Durham, who played a lot at running back, had one.
“Our defense kept us in the game,” said Holy Cross’ Bruce Kozerski, head coach of the West. “Three practices is not a whole lot of time to prepare an offense. After a tough start, we finally made plays to make us feel good on offense.”
Swanson scored on a 59-yard interception return on the fourth play, and it was quickly 7-0 West just 53 seconds into the contest. Swanson was named Snappy Tomato Beast Player of the Game and won a Beast pizza, the equivilent of three large Snappy Tomato pizzas.
Not to be outdone, Holmes’ linebacker Mikekale Scruggs picked up a fumble and returned it 50 yards for an East touchdown with 18.9 seconds left in the opening quarter. Campbell County’s Grant Mahoney nailed the extra-point kick and it was 7-7 at the end of one.
In between the team’s first scores, Osborne came up with two interceptions, the first tipped off the hands of Dayton’s DJ Walker. He added a third pick early in the second quarter. Moments later in the second, Smith returned his interception 41 yards to the East 2-yard line. That set up running back Max Nussbaum’s 1-yard plunge two plays later for a 14-7 West lead that would not be relinquished.
Nussbaum, who overcame injuries to help lead Beechwood to the state semifinals, was named NovaCare Comeback Player. Heading to Eastern Kentucky University, Nussbaum also was one of 20 seniors, one from each of the NKFCA schools, that were given a $750 college scholarship at halftime, part of $15,000 worth of scholarship monies awarded by the association.
The speedy Kennedy outran everybody while returning his first interception 36 yards for a touchdown. That gave the West a 20-7 lead with 8:41 left before intermission. Scott kicker Andrew Coe’s extra point made it 21-7. Coe converted a 34-yard field goal to make it 24-7 with 3:25 to go until halftime.
Swanson came up with his second pick, and the West’s seventh, 1:12 before the break. Kennedy snared his second and third interceptions eight minutes apart in the third quarter.
West quarterback Tyler Morris, from Cooper, hit Simon Kenton’s Jacob Huesman with a 29-yard TD pass to help put the West ahead 31-7 with 11:53 to play in the fourth. Morris, heading to Thomas More College, took off on a 56-yard scoring scamper with a little more than 2 minutes remaining to help set the final score.
To put Thursday’s wayward passing into perspective, consider that CovCath’s Bir threw nine interceptions all of last season, in 298 passing attempts. Raiders teammates Osborne and Kennedy combined for six interceptions in the game. Ryle had seven picks all of last season. Osborne had no picks in 2012. Kennedy came within one of his season total of four.
“Crazy,” said Morris, named UC Health Player of the Game with over 200 total yards. Official statistics were not kept. When asked if he had witnessed one team throw seven interceptions in a half before Thursday, Morris replied, “Never.”
It was that kind of game.
“Blake Bir is a heckuva quarterback. He had an unbelievable career at CovCath,” said Dixie Heights’ Dave Brossart, head coach of the East. “But you have to give credit to their defense.”
West defensive coordinator Jeff Marksberry, head coach at Simon Kenton, and West defensive backs coach Russell Harden from Ryle felt complimented, especially after the East offense failed to score a point. They were part of Kozerski’s all-star defensive staff that also included Scott head coach Dan Woolley, former Scott head coach Casey Fisk and Boone County assistant Ben Brown. “Three head coaches or former head coaches on one defensive staff; not bad,” said Harden.
“I’m just keeping time and making sure Koz has his needs met,” Fisk said with a laugh.
Coach Kozerski was more than happy to help revive the all-star game with a jolt, and a West win.
“Look at the crowd. It’s a beautiful night,” said the former Bengals offensive lineman. “It’s a perfect scenario in a game consisting of nothing but the best football players in northern Kentucky.”
East 7 0 0 0 — 7
West 7 17 0 14 — 38
W-Swanson 59 interception return (Coe kick)
E-Scruggs 50 fumble return (Mahoney kick)
W-Nussbaum 1 run (Coe kick)
W-Kennedy 36 interception return (Coe kick)
W-Coe 34 FG
W-Huesman 29 pass from Morris (Coe kick)
W-Morris 56 run (Coe kick)


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