All-star Cruiser

Last fall’s successful Cruiser football season has led to more accolades for its head coach and players.

Groveport Madison High School head football coach Tim Brown was recently tapped to be the head coach of the South squad at Ohio’s North-South All-Star football game to be played June 14 in Ohio Stadium. He was also named, along with his coaching staff, to be head coach of one of the teams in the Central Ohio All-Star football game to be held July 26 at Upper Arlington High School.

Joining him at the games will be some of his former Cruiser players as B. J. Camden will play in both games while Kevin Castle and Caleb Sheppard will be in the Central Ohio All-Star game.

"I was really honored and excited to be named," said Brown, who earlier this year was also honored as the Associated Press Division I co-coach of the year. "There are so many good coaches and teams in the area and in the state. I think it reflects how hard my team played last fall and how hard my assistant coaches worked. Everyone worked hard together and did things no one thought they could do. They all did a great job."

The Cruisers finished their 2007 football season in the rugged Ohio Capital Conference (OCC) with a record of 8-4 and made the state playoffs for the first time since 1988.

Prepping for the all-star games

Brown said the all-star games this summer will be "spectacular."

"There’ll be a tremendous amount of speed and talent on the field," said Brown.

He said all-star football games are different animals than games played during the regular season with one’s own squad.

"You have to keep it simple. There’s only 10 practices (before the game)," said Brown. "There’s no time to condition so the players better come in shape and be ready to play," adding that many of the players will be playing college football this fall and should already be in shape.

Regarding the X’s and O’s of planning for the all-star games, Brown said the defense will play a 5-2 straight up formation and, by rule, cannot blitz and must play man-to-man coverage on pass defense.

"The defense will be very vanilla," said Brown. "The offense has an advantage in these types of games."

Offensively he and the coaches will bring their best plays to go against the 5-2 defense. He said the game plan will also be tailored to the skills and talents of the team. He said offensive formations could include an I-based look or a spread approach.

Brown said the games will be exciting for the fans.

"The fans will get to witness some of the best high school football talent in Ohio before they all scatter this fall to places like Yale and Wisconsin and everywhere in between," said Brown.

The 2008 Cruisers

"Everyone from the top down and in the community is behind the kids," said Brown of his own Cruiser football team. "I applaud my assistant coaches for helping the kids with their studies and learning behavior. I’m blessed with a good staff and our community is coming together."

Looking forward to the Cruisers’ 2008 football season, Brown said the number of students participating in study table and workouts are up and that players’ grades are improving.

"We’ve got a lot of shoes to fill because we had a great senior class last year," said Brown. "But we also have a lot of talent coming back."

He said the OCC is a tough league.

"In our league if you sneeze you could quickly go from winning to losing," observed Brown.

A new look for the OCC

For the 2008-09 season, the OCC has realigned its 32 teams into four divisions of eight teams. The realignment took neighborhood rivalries into consideration.

Groveport Madison will play in the OCC Central Division (see below). Included in this division are traditional rivals Grove City and Gahanna Lincoln, teams which the Cruisers have played for decades in the old Franklin County League and the defunct Mid-Eight League as well as the OCC. The new alignment also matches up the Cruisers with nearby neighborhood rivals Pickerington Central, Pickerington North, Reynoldsburg, and Lancaster.

"Our new division is a gauntlet again," said Brown. "There are no easy games."

Brown said the bringing together of neighborhood and traditional rivals in the same division should attract bigger crowds to the games as well as decrease travel time.

"It will be exciting for the kids to play before a packed house," said Brown. "The OCC is just fantastic. There are no boring games because there are so many great coaches and players in the league. Fans will get their money’s worth."

OCC Central Division 2008-09

Gahanna Lincoln Lions

Grove City Greyhounds

Groveport Madison Cruisers

Lancaster Golden Gales

Newark Wildcats

Pickerington Central Tigers

Pickerington North Panthers

Reynoldsburg Raiders

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