In the Jack Arvin All-Star Game next week, the Mahoning team have a special informant in their camp. The head coach of the Mahoning squad will be McDonald Blue Devils head coach Dan Williams, along with four of his players.
“Funny thing was that Ron DeJulio who runs the game called me up and said ‘Dan I need a favor’. When he called me I thought he couldn’t find somebody to coach the Trumbull team. So I did him a favor,” Williams explained. “For me, I know the names of some of the guys being a sports guy and watching Friday nights. But of course, I’m more familiar with the Trumbull County side and the players there. It’s a neat little thing for me and my staff.”
“It’s different, but any time you coach a game like this it’s exciting. You’re coaching really, really good football players, and there’s not much coaching involved, believe me,” Williams said with a laugh. “It’s just let them go out there and play.”
The McDonald players that have accompanied Williams included standout Josh Celli, “It definitely makes it more special, playing for him (Williams) for four years and being around him and getting to play in an all-star with him as my coach there is nothing better that I could picture in my head.”
Having four Blue Devils on the team is also a big help to Williams in implementing the playbook, “We’ve been using our playbook so when someone has a question, a couple of people have already asked me questions and they have gotten some help from me.”
The Mahoning players are excited to be named to the team and to make new friends in the process. Some of these new teammates were even their arch-rivals for the past four years.
“It’s pretty fun,” Canfield’s Mehlyn Clinkscale said of being on the Mahoning Team. ”It’s another chance to play on the field especially with my teammate PJ Hallof and play with the guys I played against all year. It shows you that football is a brotherly sport no matter what team you’re on you come together and play hard together.”
“It’s a nice accomplishment,” Fitch Falcon Ralph Fitzgerald remarked. “It shows that my hard work has paid off the past four years so it’s great to be here.”
“It means a lot to me,” East High standout Markee Anderson said of being named to the Mahoning squad. “We have been working hard all year, and all four years. A lot of my teammates were pushing me to get here so it means a lot to me.”
“It a great accomplishment,” Celli added about being named to the team. “It’s something I worked for a long time. It’s something I’ve always strived to be in. My brother played in the game, so I wanted to follow in his footsteps and do the same thing.”
Anderson also pointed out that he’s enjoying the experience of meeting players from around the area that he played against during the regular season, “Honestly, it’s fun. There’s a lot of guys that I see that there was a lot of rivalry during the game, but it was during the game and it is all cool now.”
“Some of these guys here we haven’t even seen all season, so it’s nice to meet new teammates and be around new people,” Fitzgerald added.
The Mahoning squad is trying to make it two-in-a-row as they are coming off a 12-7 win last year in the contest. The Mahoning team roster includes 33 players from 15 different schools.
“It’s even more fun, it’s just like some backyard football,” Clinkscale said of playing against the Trumbull County all-stars. “Friends going out there, fake enemies, but on game day we’re not friends. Off the field, we can be friends.”
”A couple of those guys made my highlight tape,” Anderson laughed when talking about players on the Trumbull team. “It will be fun to go play against them, they have some good guys over there.”
“It’s going to be fun. But we’re definitely going to win,” Fitzgerald said with a smile in talking about the game.
The 35th annual Jack Arvin All-Star Classic will kick off at 7:00 PM June 13th at Niles Bo Rein Stadium.