BEREA -- On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns welcomed nearly 100 high-school athletes and coaches to the Casey Coleman Fieldhouse for the North team practices in preparation for the annual Ohio High School Football Coaches Association All-Star games to be played at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium on Saturday, April 27, due to renovations being made to Ohio Stadium on the campus of Ohio State University.
In the morning, the Browns hosted the all-stars set to play in the big-school game. During the afternoon session, players and coaches from the game featuring Divisions IV through VI took the field.
In previous seasons, the Browns have hosted practices for the players and coaches participating in the Cuyahoga County East-West All-Star Game.
“It’s the longest-running game all-star game in the country,” said Matt Yunker, manager of youth football for the Browns. “To be able to give these coaches and kids an opportunity to come here, give them a nice, professional venue to practice in, get them ready to represent the area of Northeast Ohio and all of Northern Ohio, it’s something that we’re proud of. It’s something that we feel we should do. It gives these kids a great experience.
“Having two separate all-star games worked out perfectly. It gives more kids an opportunity to play in the game, and it keeps kids with their divisions. I think it’s going to be good for everyone involved.”
Brian Colatruglio from Columbian High School in Tiffin is coaching the all-stars from Divisions I-III, while Norwayne’s Joe Harbour, fresh off back-to-back State Final Four appearances and a 2011 State championship in Division IV, will coach the North in the Divisions IV-VI game.
“This is an all-star game with great tradition,” Harbour said. “I think almost every Super Bowl has at least one or two alumni from this game. Lots of guys go onto big-time college and pro careers. Ohio football is a great tradition, so it’s a real honor just to be involved in this. It’s a real honor not just for me, but our success. We were fortunate enough to win state two years ago and make it to the final four last year. Our team success gives us stuff like this. It’s a real team honor.”
Colatruglio added, “First of all, it’s a tremendous honor. When you look at the ‘Who’s Who’ in Ohio high school coaches in the past and guys that have done this game, to put my name with that group, it’s almost hard to believe. I’m extremely flattered and honored to be a part of this. It’s something I’m extremely excited to do.”
In addition to coaching in the game, Colatruglio and Harbour were honored with the opportunity to practice at the Browns’ indoor facility.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Colatruglio said. “I’m a lifelong Browns fan. I’ve been a Browns fan since I knew what football was, so it’s pretty awesome for me. I’m sure it’s cool for all of these guys to be in an NFL facility, but those of us that have grown up Browns fans, to be inside and walk through the building and just see everything that goes on, it’s just pretty cool.”
Harbour added, “This is awesome. This is the Mecca of Ohio football, the Browns and NFL. For the kids to be here, it’s a real treat for them, and even for me as a coach. I went to Baldwin Wallace and I was fortunate enough to practice here once or twice since they had a great relationship. It’s something special to be where the guys you see on Sunday are every day. It’s awesome for the Browns to let us do this. It allows for a good, solid practice, and it’s another nice treat for the kids.”