It will be interesting to see what the predominantly white football helmets belonging to Dillon Dallas and Alex Woods look like a week from now.
After all, Center Grove’s rather basic look — red stripe and the player’s red numeral on the left side — leaves real estate aplenty for both Trojans to decorate prior to the Grange Insurance All-Star Classic on July 18.
The decal exchange among players is one of the event’s more popular tradi- tions. Not only does it help break the ice for young men who might not otherwise meet, it’s a sincere form of respect.
Dallas, the 6-foot, 255-pound whirling dervish who led Johnson County in quarterback sacks (9.5) while helping lead Center Grove to the Class 6A semistate as a senior, looks forward to taking part.
“I’m looking forward to knowing everyone on the team,” Dallas said. “It would be weird to put a Ben Davis sticker on my helmet, but if someone hands me one I’ll put it on there. We’re all friends now.”
Even a Warren Central one?
“Even a Warren Central one,” Dallas said, laughing.
The Warriors scored a 12-7 semistate victory against the Trojans in November, then proceeded to rub salt in the wound by bringing home the Class 6A state title a week later.
The gold “W” might make its way onto Dallas’ helmet; the jury is still out when it comes to Woods.
“Honestly, I have no clue as to what I’ll be doing,” said Woods, a 6-foot-2, 260-pound offensive linemen, who, like Dallas, has been a varsity starter since the first snap of his sophomore season. “I might put it in the back of the helmet where no one can see it.”
Players and coaches taking part in the 48th annual showcase pitting North vs. South report to the University of Indianapolis on Sunday.
Dallas and Woods will suit up for the South All-Stars as will Edinburgh offensive lineman Dakota Sneed and Roncalli lineman Cal Scifres.
The South has won the past three summers and owns a 26-21 series lead.
The All-Star Classic is more than friendships, decals and geographical pride. Few things bring that into focus quicker than Wednesday’s visit to Camp Riley in Martinsville.
For two hours football players who take enormous pride in the physical demands of their sport are reduced to oatmeal by children born with physical disabilities.
Campers take immediate ownership of this newly discovered group of heroes.
Games are played. Friendships are forged.
“That’s what I’m looking forward to the most,” said Woods, who would like to someday get involved with volunteer work. “Tyler (Genneken) passing away was definitely a wakeup call for my class.”
A former classmate and teammate of Dallas and Woods, Genneken lost his 40-month battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on Nov. 4, 2009.
Genneken remained a powerful source of inspiration for his friends as they grew into varsity athletes and remains so today.
Dallas recently asked Drew Genneken, Tyler’s father, if he could take some of the black/white No. 12 (Tyler’s old jersey number) stickers Trojans players wore on their helmets last fall to use when decals are being exchanged at U of I.
Drew Genneken complied with a sheet of 48 white stickers bearing a red No. 12 donning a gold halo and black angel’s wings. Dallas said he will explain the sticker’s meaning to his South All-Star teammates so that they, too, understand Tyler’s story and impact.
In the end, there is a football game. One final high school hurrah before Dallas is off to the University of Indianapolis and Woods to the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne (both will play football).
“I always play to win no matter days of practice you have with guys,” Dallas said. “Going to Camp Riley and the (Indiana) Football Hall of Fame are trips I’m really looking forward to. I’m going to soak it all in and enjoy it.”