Warren Harding's Jon Richardson earned MVP honors for Trumbull.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NEWTON FALLS -- Before fielding a punt early in the second half, Warren Harding's Jon Richardson got some advice from one of his coaches about what to do.
"He just told me to go right because that's where everyone was blocking," Richardson said. "I was just trying to make a play."
Two spins, a couple jukes and 70 yards later, Richardson made the game's biggest play, turning a simple punt return into a game-changing touchdown, giving the Trumbull County All-Stars a 16-6 lead.
LaBrae's Todd Rowan added his second touchdown pass late in the game and Trumbull held on to defeat the Mahoning County All-Stars 23-6 in Thursday's Mahoning Valley Coaches Association's Jack Arvin Football Classic at Newton Falls High Stadium.
"I just did what they told me to do," Richardson, who was named the Trumbull County MVP, said. "Everything worked out."
Rowan, a Youngstown State recruit, completed 6-of-10 passes for 87 yards and two touchdown passes.
His first TD pass came with five minutes remaining in the first quarter when he found Girard's Ryan Collins over the middle for a 19-yard score on fourth-and-18.
Rowan then connected with Harding's Roger Matlock a 26-yard touchdown in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Richardson, who plans to play football at Gannon University and major in criminal justice, was also the game's leading rusher, carrying 13 times for 59 yards.
"I was shocked," he said. "I don't get a lot of MVP awards."
Chaney's Mike Rosa earned Mahoning County MVP after collecting two sacks, a tackle for a loss and a host of tackles.
"I had fun, but it was disturbing at times to know they were ahead," Rosa said. "I just kept trying to play hard."
How did it feel to win MVP?
"Oh, it felt good," said Rosa, who will play football at Waynesburg and major in criminal justice. "But I would have rather the team won. This is a team sport."
Chaney's Rick Hlinka got the start at quarterback, but Canfield's Jamie McNally saw most of the action, completing 9-of-28 passes for 181 yards. His teammate, Jordan Ferns, caught three passes for 82 yards and Mineral Ridge's Levi Leigh (playing for Mahoning) caught three passes for 57 yards.
Mahoning County's lone score came with 5:30 remaining in the second quarter when Trumbull quarterback Bobby Ovesny (Girard) fumbled the ball in the end zone while being sacked and Rayen's Derrick Slocum recovered for the touchdown.
Rosa was disappointed with the loss, but not with the experience.
"It was a lot of fun," he said. "I learned a lot of teamwork skills and discipline and I love the adrenaline you get from it. It's been a great experience."
Mathews' John Parry coached the Trumbull County team and Rayen's Brian Shaner coached Mahoning County.