The 51st annual North-South All-Star football game will include five Johnson County players competing for the South squad.
Center Grove offensive lineman Clay Hadley and defensive end Dan Root are joined by Greenwood cornerback Dylan Rosado and Whiteland’s combination of defensive lineman Ryder Emberton and strong tackle Tarnjeet Singh.
All five look forward to the experience of competing with and against the state’s premier senior players:
Crossing the bridge
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Former Center Grove defensive end Dan Root built his reputation behind the opposing team’s line of scrimmage.
In two seasons as a starter, Root accounted for a total of 18.5 tackles for loss.
Root, who plays next season at NAIA power Marian University, views the North-South All-Star Game as the ideal bridge to connect his high school and college football careers.
“I’m just really looking forward to putting on the pads again,” said Root, the Trojans’ fourth-leading tackler last season (72) during the program’s second consecutive run to the Class 6A championship game.
“It will be nice trying to compare myself against other players and get a gauge where I’m at going into my freshman season.”
Two of Root’s nine tackles for loss this past season — and a career-high 10 tackles overall — were in his very last game, a gut-wrenching 16-13 overtime loss to Carmel in the 6A final at Lucas Oil Stadium.
One last chance to represent the Trojans is something he relishes.
“Center Grove football is very special. Just the environment we’re around,” Root said. “It’s a very hard-working community, and it’s contagious.”
Back on the corner
Dylan Rosado was recruited to catch the football in college, but he will be attempting to break up pass plays at the North-South Game.
Listed as one of four of the South squad’s cornerbacks, the former Greenwood do-everything said that’s just fine with him.
“It would have been cool to play receiver for this game, but it will be fun to play defense one last time,” said Rosado, who will play at Quincy University, a Division II program in Illinois.
The Woodmen finished the 2016 season with an 8-4 record, advancing all the way to the title game of its sectional before losing to eventual Class 4A state champion Roncalli.
Rosado caught 13 passes for 300 yards and rushed for another 268 yards. Defensively, he made 59 tackles and intercepted two passes.
During the final three years of his career in a Greenwood uniform, Rosado’s total numbers included 35 receptions for 811 yards. He also rushed for 504 yards.
“I haven’t put the pads on for a while,” Rosado said. “It’s going to be a big boost for me going into my first year of college.”
Once at college, Ryder Emberton’s athletic ambitions will be steered away from the football field.
Therefore, the former Whiteland lineman plans to treasure every aspect of being part of the 51st annual North-South Game.
“It’s a big deal to me to be part of this game, because it gives me another opportunity to play football and represent the south side of Indianapolis,” said Emberton, who will be part of the men’s track and field program at Iowa Central Community College.
“It also shows all the hard work I’ve put in. I’m excited to take the field one last time and represent my town.”
Emberton is listed as a defensive lineman for the South All-Star roster, though if needed he could line up on either side of the line of scrimmage.
A disruptive force for the Whiteland defense, Emberton finished his senior season with 53 tackles — including 14 for loss — to go along with three sacks and four fumble recoveries.
Iowa Central is one of the nation’s premier men’s junior college track and field programs, which means Emberton, the 2016 state shot put champion who was runner-up this season in the discus, fits right in.
But, first, one more football game.
Right at home
Clay Hadley will soon report to the University of Indianapolis to begin football practice. Twice.
A member of the South All-Stars from July 9 to 14, Center’s Grove’s three-year starter at left tackle returns to UIndy on Aug. 4 as part of Greyhounds coach Bob Bartolomeo’s freshman class.
Hadley, who began driving to campus for workouts the day after graduating from high school, is proud to be extending the Trojans’ lineage of All-Star players.
“It’s really an honor to be picked for the North-South Game,” said Hadley, who will be on the South squad with, among others, Fishers offensive lineman Charlie Bernhardt, his future UIndy roommate.
“I remember going to the game two years ago to watch (former Center Grove teammates) Austin Smogor and Keith Sears play,” Hadley said. “I’m looking forward to representing my school, my family and the Trojans fans.”
Hadley raises the number of former Center Grove players on the Greyhounds’ roster to five for the 2017 season. The others are offensive lineman Jordan Bedan, defensive tackle Dillon Dallas and defensive backs Blake Moran and Connor Steeb.
A big addition
Whiteland’s Tarnjeet Singh knew someone would have to miss the annual North-South Game for him to make it.
As the first alternate, he eventually got the call.
“It was near the end of the school year when I found out,” said Singh, a two-year starter on the offensive line for the Warriors. “I was pretty excited, because in this game it’s the best of the best.”
The 6-foot-4 Singh played his final season at Whiteland weighing 250 pounds. He’s now about 20 pounds heavier, thanks to a combination of weight room workouts and a diet focused more on protein and carbohydrates.
Singh is continuing his education at the University of Indianapolis, where he’ll play football for the Greyhounds.
The practices leading up to the annual North-South matchup and the game itself make for an early gathering of UIndy players.
“A lot of Indianapolis recruits are going to be playing for the South team, so that will be fun,” Singh said.
IFCA North-South All-Star Game
When: July 14, 7 p.m.
Where: North Central High School