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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Bishop Dwenger's T.J. Tippmann tries to get past Wayne's Chris Thomas during the Saints' 22-0 win over Wayne on August 17, 2018.

Friday, July 12, 2019 1:00 am

All-Star football creating friends

Saints' Garrett to lead North squad

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

If you go

What: IFCA North-South All-Star Classic

When: 7:15 p.m. today

Where: North Central High School, Indianapolis

Admission: $10 for adults, $5 for students at the gate

Area all-stars

Norman Knapke, QB, Bishop Luers

Jordan Presley, WR, Bishop Luers

Simon Dellinger, TE, Snider

Alex Kolkman, C, Bishop Dwenger

Will Swartz, OL, Snider

Levi Leffers, DT, Central Noble

Luke Honer, ILB, Angola

Logan Macklin, OLB/SS, Adams Central

T.J. Tippmann, OLB/SS, Bishop Dwenger

Kaiden Harshberger, CB, East Noble

Brayden Johnson, P, Wawasee

A number of players at today's Indiana Football Coaches Association North-South All Star Football Classic will put on football uniforms and run onto the field for the final time at North Central High School.

“The No. 1 goal of this game is to recognize these young men and allow them to show their talents and their abilities and allow them to have a great, fun time,” said Bishop Dwenger coach Jason Garrett, who will coach of the North team.  

But before that moment comes the final training camp of their careers, or at least their final training camp as high school football players. The players reported at the University of Indianapolis on Tuesday and were put through full days of practices and meetings Tuesday and Wednesday before catching a break with an intersquad bowling night Wednesday. 

“It's a new experience, but with the same old practices and the same old things that we did last season,” said center Alex Kolkman, an All-Star with Dwenger teammate T.J. Tippmann. “It's easy getting back into the plays and back into the drills mentally, but physically a lot of us are pretty out of shape. So that took us awhile to adjust, but we're all ready now.”

Kolkman said his favorite part of the week has been getting to know players and coaches from other schools. 

“Right off the bat, everyone's really friendly, and you get to know more about people that you once competed against, maybe even hated before,” Kolkman said. 

Dwenger players and coaches have the luxury of having Bishop Luers quarterback Norman Knapke and wide receiver Jordan Presley and Snider tight end Simon Dellinger and lineman Will Swartz on the same sideline instead of the opponents'. 

“I actually coached Will when he was a lot younger, and so we've always had kind of a friendship there, I know his parents,” Garrett said. “It's pretty special to get to know those four guys personally, and they get to know us a little bit, and then to have Alex and T.J. from Dwenger, so six guys from the SAC representing our conference and Fort Wayne.”

Today's game will be one of Dellinger's final activities before he reports to West Point on Monday.  

“We were pleasantly surprised that he would be able to make it to participate,” Garrett said of Dellinger. “ ... He chose to take part knowing that he'll compete in the game tomorrow night, go home, start packing and then hit the road on Sunday to enter a whole new phase of his life.”

And while the All-Star Classic involves a lot of new relationships, it will also be the final time that Kolkman will play for his father, Casey Kolkman, the defensive coordinator for Dwenger and the All-Star team. 

“The experience that we had last season together, the journey through the playoffs and finishing with that amazing win down at Lucas (Oil Stadium), that would have been enough for us,” Casey Kolkman said, referring to the Saints' quadruple overtime win in the state championship.

“And then you find out you get that little bit more and get to come down to an all-star environment, which I had never done before, and you have all these kids that were the best kids on there teams. ... It's all gravy.”

Both Garrett and Kolkman said that coaching All-Stars makes for a relatively easy assignment. 

“It feels like we've been together for a lot longer than just a couple days,” Garrett said. “  ... We've built some good relationships with these guys, and we just told them last practice that I can't wait to get on the sideline and watch you guys tomorrow night.”

vjacobsen@jg.net