Justin Kropka tabbed to coach South squad

Justin Kropka has been selected to coach the South team in the North-South All-Star Football Game April 27 at Dayton Welcome Stadium in Divisions IV, V and VI.

The Harrison Central head coach was nominated and voted in by his peers.

“It’s such a great thing, such an honor when your peers vote you to do something,” he said. “When your peers throughout Ohio say yes to you, you don’t turn that down.

“I have a deep appreciation for that kind of thing. If I am going to do it, I am going to do the best possible job I can do to represent the Ohio Valley. I want to represent us as well as I can. Not just Harrison Central, but all the schools.”

It is the first year for two all-star games.

The divisions were split after the Big 33 backed out of the Penn-Ohio game and left many Ohio all-star football players with nowhere to play.

“Without the split, there was a really good chance that Division I full scholarship players would not be able to play in the North-South game,” said Kropka, who just finished his eighth season with the Huskies. “Everybody did the right thing by splitting the game into two games. Judging by the reaction we have received from small school kids, they are really excited.

“We have some great football players. We have about a dozen D1 kids. Our tight end is going to Notre Dame and a linebacker to WVU. This is no B team.”

The roster is filled with 36 players, including a place kicker. Kropka filled four of those spots with Harrison Central’s Nick Pelegreen and St. Clairsville’s Dan Monteroso, Matt Kinnick and Corey Ernest.

“Those kids from St. Clairsville left an indelible impression on me because I was the only coach to play them twice,” said Kropka. “When we played them the first time, we had two, three films, plus my film, and when we played them the second time (in the first round of the Division IV playoffs), I had two, three more films, plus my film.

“I have seen those kids on film, seven or eight times. I know they are all good kids and I know what they can do.

“We also have two kids from (Division IV state champion) Clinton-Massie. We have some really, really good kids.

“But, I sure the North has the same.”

He also tabbed good friend Brett McClean, the boss at St. Clairsville, to be the offensive coordinator.

“It should be really interesting with me and Brett on the same side,” Kropka said with a laugh. “We’ve always talked hypotheticals – ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we get to do this, or we get to do that.’

“Well, we get to do this.

“We have hit this hard. He just barely got done with his season and I called and asked him to do this. It’s great to have a local guy, especially a good friend like Brett. I’m sure this favor will be called in some day.

“I promised him I wouldn’t get in the way too much.”

Kropka, Harrison Central’s winningest head coach at 43-38, was the offensive coordinator in the North-South game in 2007.

“On my way home from the game in ’07 I told myself that if I ever got the opportunity to do this again, I would be a good position coach and enjoy myself, enjoy the kids and let someone else be the head coach,” he said.

“Your guess is as good as mine why they chose me to be the head coach

The first practice is March 17 at Ohio State’s Woody Hayes Center. They will also practice April 7 and 14 at the same facility. The participants will report to Dayton on April 25, with practices on April 25-26 and the game at 4 p.m. on the 27th.

The Division I-III game will be held at noon.