Looking for a way to showcase some of the area's top football seniors, Mike Gerdine, Jr., began the St. Louis High School All-Star Classic a year ago.
Now the event has grown to two games and will include a team of Illinois senior all-stars vs. Missouri senior all-stars at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Gateway Tech High in St. Louis (5101 McCree Ave.).
Preceding that game will be a North vs. South game featuring top players from the metro area of St. Louis. Tickets are $10 each and are available from participating players as well as at the gate.
"It was a void here that I really felt like needed to be filled," said Gerdine, a former high school football player at CBC in St. Louis who expects representatives from as many as 30 college football programs to attend the showcase. "I felt like there were a lot of kids that had athletic ability to play at the next level, but they didn't have the right help to be there. I want to try to get as many kids as I can playing college ball."
It's an ambitious goal, but if event organizers can steer even a couple more players to college programs that might not have had the opportunity, they feel it will be worth it.
"I like the concept and I think it's going to help sell some of the kids on this side of the river," said Mater Dei High coach Jim Stiebel, who will be joined on the coaching staff by other metro-east head coaches and some assistants. "The Missouri side gets visited more by colleges than some of the rural pr even metro-east Illinois schools, so it's an opportunity to get noticed and will benefit our kids because of that."
The Illinois team got one practice in at Gateway Tech and is practicing this week at Lindenwood University in Belleville.
Also on the Illinois coaching staff are East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett, Belleville West coach Cameron Pettus, Mascoutah coach Scott Battas and Highland coach Jimmy Warnecke, among others.
"I like the timing," Stiebel said. "I'd rather do it now than in the summer when they do the Shrine all-star games since they're just wrapping up football right now.
"They only get a week of practice, so you can't get real complicated with your schemes. You've got to keep it simple."
Stiebel said the selection process included seniors from all-conference teams and through consulting with area coaches.
"It's been a little tough getting the kids to buy in because it's new, it's only the second year," he said. "It's definitely something we want to see continue because these kids are getting notoriety that they might not get otherwise."
The following is a list of players on the Illinois all-star squad as submitted by event organizers on Tuesday. The list is subject to change:
Althoff: Nolan Abernathy, Erik Furmanek, Michael Harris, Jeremy Miller
Alton: Aaron Womack, Tyler McLemore
Belleville East: James Cotton, Orlando Ward, Jr.
Belleville West: Marquis Cherry, Tremont Davis, Ross Dosier, Donnie Foster, Pierre Gee-Tucker, Nick Simmonds, Mech Spraggins
Cahokia: Shayeen Edwards
Columbia: Ben DeMoulin
East St. Louis: Tevin Edwards, Julius Jackson, Aaron McGee, Cortez Spencer,
Edwardsville: Julian Harvey, Donte Tinnin
Highland: Blake Swearingen, Tyler Zappia
Jacksonville: Harley VanBebber
Marquette: Michael Ford
Mascoutah: Farris Limuel, Zach Lindsay, Robert Pearson
Mater Dei: Jordan Lampe, Travis Wuebbles
O'Fallon: Greg Gibson
Triad: Trevor Medved
Waterloo: Arik Bueltman
Among the top players listed on the Missouri roster are Johnathan Parker (CBC), Terrell Bland (Parkway South), Tyler Walker (Clayton), Nick Grandberry (St. Louis University High), Donnie White (DeSmet), Justin Smith (Fort Zumwalt South) and Devin Roberts (Warrenton).
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at email@example.com or 239-2454.