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East Canton, Sandy Valley grads embrace all-star experience

By WALTER DOERSCHUK The Press-News Published: July 22, 2016 10:00 AM
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PLAIN TWP.-- With limited practice time, teams usually don't have much time to jell prior to all-star games.

But recent East Canton graduate Logan Mercer appreciated the way his East team prepared prior to Saturday's annual Stark County high school football all-star clash.

"It's pretty great," Mercer said. "We got to know each other real quick. We played as a team. Pretty much like on a team we were around for four years. Treated us like we were all on the same team."

Fellow East Canton alum Brandon Clapper explained the unique opportunity he and Mercer had to share the field with talent around the county.

"It was an honor to come out here and play for everybody," Clapper said. "It was fun playing with all of these athletes that we got to. We're not used to that sometimes but it was an honor to play."

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Mercer and Clapper played on the field together on the East's defensive front. They joined Sandy Valley standouts Jacob Wagner and Brandon Murphy. They were led by Sandy Valley head coach Zach Gardner.

"It was a great experience getting to know the young men on this team and really special to be with Jake and Brandon one more time," Gardner said.

The West dominated in a 48-7 win at GlenOak High School's Bob Commings Field. A game that is usually played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton had to be moved this year due to renovations to the stadium.

The East had trouble establishing an offensive rhythm. Midway through the second quarter, former Louisville quarterback Jake Adams found Wagner open down the left sideline at the West 35-yard line. Wagner hauled in the long pass from Adams and did everything he could to drag his feet in bounds. However, the pass was ruled incomplete.

The East found the end zone for the only time of the night with 46 seconds left in the third when St. Thomas Aquinas' Robbie Kostiuk caught a 12-yard touchdown pass. A few plays earlier, Wagner snagged an 18-yard first down catch along the left sideline to the West 28.

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