Wapakoneta High School senior Kyle Gonterman, left, holds the ball prior to a snap Saturday in the Division I-III Ohio North-South Classic hosted by the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association at Welcome Stadium in Dayton. (Staff photo/Brad Frank)
DAYTON — Kyle Gonterman had a good experience this past week in preparation for football at the college level this coming fall.
The Wapakoneta High School senior took part in the Ohio North-South Classic festivities, which concluded Saturday with an exhibition all-star game hosted by the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association at Welcome Stadium in Dayton.
Gonterman played at center for the South team in the Division I-III game.
The exhibition game featured some of the top college football recruits in the state and displayed the level of competition Gonterman will experience as a member of the Ohio Northern University football team this fall.
“They’re a lot faster and a lot more stronger,” Gonterman said about the North squad opponents Saturday. “They’ve been in the weight room a lot more. You just got to stick to your basics and do what you gotta do.”
Gonterman, who was a second-team All-Ohio offensive lineman in 2013, opened Saturday’s game as the starting center for the South.
The North roster came away with a 23-14 win Saturday.
Late in the contest, Gonterman jumped on a fumble to keep one of his team’s drives alive.
“The right guard let his guy go,” he said. “I knew the defensive tackle was pretty athletic. I saw him coming but the quarterback never saw him coming. I just ran it down and dove on it.”
Gonterman reflected on the opportunity to play in the game Saturday, which is longest-running high school football all-star game in the country.
“I’d love to thank my community for supporting me, the whole team and Coach (Shane Patterson),” he said. “I loved it.”
Players and coaches practiced Thursday and Friday in Dayton in preparation for the game Saturday.
A lot of what Gonterman was accustomed to as far as football was missing this past weekend.
He is from a small town along I-75, while many of his teammates and opponents were from much larger schools in cities such as Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, some of whom are going to big-time college football programs like Ohio State.
“It was definitely a different atmosphere, coming from a small, country town,” Gonterman said. “It was such a pleasure to be teammates with different guys from different schools, just being in a different atmosphere. It was a pleasure to work with everyone, getting to know them and make new friends. Some kids are going to big schools.”
Despite the differences between him and a lot of his teammates, a common element in football all-star games appeared Saturday.
A tradition in high school football all-star games, players distributed helmet logos to teammates to stick onto their own helmet, so a few of Gonterman’s teammates on the South roster adorned Wapakoneta’s logo, the red ‘W’ with a horizontal black arrow.
Also unfamiliar to Gonterman were the spread offense concepts the South used in the game Saturday.
The Wapakoneta Redskins ran a wing-T offense while Gonterman was in high school.
“We ran the wing-T, but a lot of what we ran [Saturday] was the spread,” he said. “The run plays [today] were the same ideas as what we ran [in high school] though.”
Despite the unfamiliarity with certain aspects of the weekend, Gonterman said he knew effort could carry him through.
“I was always taught to go your hardest, give 110 percent and do your best,” he said.
Gonterman will carry that sentiment into the fall as he joins the ONU football program.
As the process of searching for a college to attend, Gonterman said his appointment to the North-South game drew interest from college football coaches.
“I was looking at a tech school,” he said. “The coaches were interested in me. I didn’t want to be done with football.”
Now weighing 265, Gonterman has also gained weight since his senior season last fall, when he played around 240-245 pounds. He said the ONU coaches would like him to get to 270.
Gonterman is one of many centers for the Polar Bears but hopes to become the team’s backup right away.
“They’ve got three guys playing center right now,” he said. “I hope to jump in at the No. 2 spot.”
He will major in construction management at ONU.
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