The stars will not be out tonight at Centre College, and that’s too bad.
This would have been the night that the Mid-State Football Coaches Association staged its annual all-star game. For six years, the game has been a fixture on the day before the Great American Brass Band Festival. But there is no game tonight, and there doesn’t seem to be much chance that there will ever be another.
With no fanfare and not much of a protest, the coaches of the 19 schools that make up the MSFCA simply decided not to play their game this year. After six years, it has fallen victim to declining interest among the coaches who must organize the game and the players who would participate.
“The past two or three years the interest levels have been down,” said Garrard County coach Steve Stonebraker, who served as the game director for a couple of years and who writes the “Coach Stoney” blog for amnews.com. “And it’s mainly among the kids.”
The game, played for five years at Centre and once at Harrodsburg, has been a showcase for graduated seniors who aren’t picked to play in the Kentucky-Tennessee all-star game — which of course is most of them. Many of those players were headed for small colleges, and some had no plans to play college football at all.
But fewer players have taking the coaches up on their invitational in recent years. The South team was undermanned throughout the six-year series and had a very small roster for the last two years. The North, which led the series 5-0-1, had bigger rosters, but its numbers were on the decline as well.
Then there was the matter of finding coaches to organize the game. Danville assistant Jerry Perry, a key figure in organizing the coaches’ association and its annual spring combine, was the first game director. Stonebraker followed for a couple of years before being succeeded last year by Donnie Walker, who was then the coach at Franklin County. After Walker left Franklin, there wasn’t exactly a rush to take his place.
“It’s a lot of work to put on … and it takes a lot of time away from your own team,” Stonebraker said.
So the game appears to have passed quietly and peacefully.
“Honestly, there just wasn’t a whole lot of talk about it this year,” Stonebraker said. “I only heard talk from a couple of coaches, and only one of my kids mentioned it.”
That’s a shame, because this was a game worth playing. Yes, the commitments of time and money needed to play it were significant, and the contributions of the coaches and others who gave those things should be applauded.
They should also be continued. Perhaps the answer is to give each school in the coaches’ association a turn at running the game. Or maybe it should be done by someone outside that loop. Then again, there’s a good chance they already considered those ideas. Maybe a significant sponsorship would have helped save the game. Maybe not.
And maybe there really aren’t that many players who care whether such a game gets played or not. But if there are still enough interested teenagers, there ought to be a way to keep the game going. Regional all-star games have been sustained for much longer than this in other areas (northern Kentucky comes to mind), and it’s sad and surprising that this one had such a short life span.