TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Mattoon's Gunner Runyon and Payton Smith earned awards in the 15th annual Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association All-Star Football game Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Both of them played on the Black Division team that lost to the Gold Division team 42-3 in a game called with 4:23 left in the third quarter because of lightning in the area.
"It was the most fun I have had," said Tri-County's Anthony Jones, who played for the Gold team and is a center. He hopes to play at Division III North Park.
The Gold team scored 21 points off turnovers in the victory and the Black Division didn't cross midfield on five of their seven drives.
Smith, who will be attending Illinois State and competing in track, earned the Central Wabash Valley Building and Trades scholarship, voted on by the coaches.
"I think it just goes to show that all of the coaching I have gotten from (Mattoon assistant) coach Jared Kimbro and various different coaches throughout my eight years of playing football has paid off," said Smith. "I was really excited to get it."
Runyon earned the Pete Varda Scholarship as voted on by the players for leadership.
"It is nice to feel that the team is behind me and they see the leadership that I have," said Runyon, who will go to Lake Land. "It was fun and I am glad I got invited to it. It was a great time with great friends."
Also playing on the Gold Division team were Mattoon's Myles Woodard, who made three tackles, and Brock Smith, along with Casey-Westfield's Marcus Downs and Loggan Thompson. Mattoon coach Troy Johnson was an assistant for the Black Division team. MHS's Jack Pilson and Jackson Nichols were invited, but were unable to play.
On the winning team were Cumberland's Dayton Mitchell and Connor Butler, along with Tri-County's Anthony Jones. Cumberland's Zach Wolke was there throughout the week at practices and at the game, but could not play due to an injury (torn meniscus and will have surgery in five weeks). Tri-County's Michael Hawkins was invited, but could not take part due to work.
"It just felt good to put the pads on one last time," said Butler. "I met new friends and in just one week we became a family. It was good to be on the field one last time."
As for the game, the Gold team took control early, holding the Black Division team to minus-8 yards on their first two possessions. Gold opened the wcoring when Levon Bellemy of Edgewood, Ind., scampered 38 yards for a touchdown Northview's Dylan Boor tacked on the first of six extra points.
On Gold's next drive, Sullivan, Ind.'s Jack Conner hit Greencastle's Gavin Bollman for a 6-yard touchdown pass. After the extra point, it was 14-0 with 5:44 left in the first. By half, the lead was 28-3.
"It was crazy," said Butler. "All of the all-stars being there and how we got pumped up so much. It was 10 times more exciting."
The highlight of the second half was when Golds' Reis Spradley of Northview, Ind. — a 6-0, 240-pound lineman — stripped the ball out of the hands of a Black Division player and raced untouched 10 yards into the end zone.
Butler, who will attend Eastern Illinois, had one catch for six yards for the Gold team, which was outgained 218 to 102.
"It was an all-star game and there is no hurt feelings or anything," said Payton Smith. "We were just having fun out there. The guys we were playing with are the best of the best where they are from in the Wabash Valley.
"It is an honor to play for Mattoon and play with guys from Indiana that we had never seen before, and it is a really fun opportunity to play with some of the guys from Illinois that you see on the news sometimes, but never get the chance to play them. The entire week was a great experience and it was a really fun time."