The state of Ohio, on the heels of exiting the annual Big 33 all-star game with Pennsylvania, has invited the state of Michigan to a new high school all-star game.
The Ohio–Michigan Border Classic will feature high school senior football players from Ohio and Michigan and will put the best 40 prospects from each state against the other. The inaugural game will take place on June 14, 2014, which will allow prospects from the 2014 class to participate in the event.
Larry Merx is the Executive director for the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association and says that they felt this was a great opportunity for their state.
“We were invited by Ohio to participate in it, and the thought process was that it’s exciting. It’s a chance to get our best players involved with a game that we think there will be a lot of interest in,” Merx said. “When Pennsylvania withdrew (from the Big 33) it left Ohio high and dry. Ohio was looking around and said we have a natural rivalry and they invited us, so we thought it sounded pretty good.”
The game will also replace Michigan’s East-West all-star game that took place every year featuring some of the top high school talent in Michigan. That game featured 88 players that were nominated by the coaches to play in the game, something that will change with the Border Classic.
“We’re going to first select six coaches for the game. Our regional directors will nominate coaches, the all-star committee will meet and select the six coaches that will participate in early December,” he said. “Then the coaches will go about recruiting players. The all-star coaches will go out and get the best players in the state and get them in the game.”
From an Ohio standpoint, the Border Classic is one prospective players are looking forward to. Some standouts such as Kyle Berger (Cleveland/St. Ignatius) and Sam Hubbard (Cincinnati/Moeller) already play a few schools in Michigan, but the majority do not, and that has a wave of excitement running through the state.
ESPN 300 cornerback Darius West (Lima, Ohio/Central Catholic) lives 90 minutes from the Michigan border and was recruited by the Buckeyes and Wolverines.
The Kentucky commit sees it as much more than bragging rights at the next level, however, as Ohio and Michigan have always measured themselves up against the other.
“It would be pretty fun,” West said. “There are a lot of people that think Michigan football is better than Ohio and that Ohio is better than Michigan.
“This would prove which is better. It would be a real good game between two great states. We’re right by each other and Michigan and Ohio already have a rivalry.”
Hubbard, whose team won both games against schools from Michigan last season, sees the game as an extension of what is already a heated battle.
He also sees it as a way to play some of the best competition in the nation.
“We’re obviously already rivals,” Hubbard said. “There’s always talk on Twitter about who is better, so it should be fun.
“Obviously the game doesn’t mean anything, but it is bragging rights. It’s something people can get into. It will give you a leg up in confidence when the real games come around. We played Detroit Central Catholic and Grand Rapids Christian last season, so we played against Drake Harris. That was intense. I think it’s a great thing to switch over to Michigan. It’s one of the greatest rivalries in college football.”
That view is no different in the state of Michigan. The Michigan prospects are excited about the idea of being able to compete against some of the top prospects, but they know there is a bigger picture to this game.
Michigan wide receiver commit Maurice Ways (Beverly Hills, Mich./Country Day) says it would be an honor to represent his state, but this wouldn’t be an ordinary all-star game.
“Both states are going to select the best and top players from their state to make sure they win. This won’t be just a friendly all-star game, it will be serious and a big deal,” Ways said. “Neither states like each other and I’m sure you’ll have a guy going to Michigan and a guy going to Ohio (State) so the hate will already be in the air. It’s going to be taken seriously and I’m sure it would be an exciting game.”