ANDERSON – The North All-Stars had won the last five IFCA All-Star Classics against the South team, but that winning streak came to a decisive end at Anderson University on Friday as the South won 45-7.
The South now leads the all-time series 28-26.
South Adams quarterback James Arnold threw the North's lone touchdown pass, a 27-yard heave that hit Marcus Hardy of Merrillville in the back of the end zone to cut the South lead to 38-7 at 3:02 in the third quarter. Hardy was named the North MVP after the game.
But the rest of the night's highlights belonged to the South All-Stars, who scored the most points and won by the largest margin of any team since the series began in 1967. Micah Wilson, a running back from Covenant Christian, was named the Tyler W. Roth Most Valuable Player Award winner.
At the most recent edition of the game in 2019, the North team, led by Bishop Dwenger coach Jason Garrett, beat the South 25-24.
The highlights of Friday's game will be preserved in the record books, but one local participant, Homestead offensive lineman Brady Parker, said that the four days of practices leading up to the game are going to be long-lasting memories for him.
“It's been great. Grant Moser, the coach at South Adams and the head coach of the North team, he's been really good for the North team, and the way Anderson has treated us is great, too,” said Parker, who will next play football at Saint Francis. “It's an eye-opener, for sure, because we don't play a lot of teams like Lafayette Jeff and big schools in 6A outside our region. It's a blessing to communicate with those guys and meet them. These are going to be friends for the rest of my life.”
The players and coaches started preparations Tuesday, so by necessity the coaches had to keep Friday's game plans relatively simple – a task made simpler by the talented, self-motivated roster.
“Coach (Moser) told us that 40 of the 48 players were captains of their team in high school, and that shows that we're leaders and this is a player-led team,” Parker said. “When we come here to games like this, we know what we're going to do.”
Eastside free safety Lane Burns said the game gave him an opportunity to reconnect with an old friend from his travel baseball days, Elkhart linebacker Vinny Ambrose.
“It's been great. They all have great personalities, all have love for the game,” Burns said. “Overall, it's been a fun experience getting to bond with these guys, and with the coaches as well.”
Burns was the only NECC player selected.
“It shows that anyone can do pretty much anything, no matter your school size, no matter what,” Burns said. “If you come out and play the game as hard as you can, you can do anything.”
The event was canceled in 2020 because of pandemic restrictions. Former Indianapolis North Central athletic director Paul Loggan, who was the North-South game director for 35 years, died of COVID-19 on Easter Sunday 2020. His family was recognized at halftime Friday.
Side judge Amanda Bender of South Bend became the first woman to officiate in an IFCA North-South game.