ALL-STAR FOOTBALL GAME TO INCLUDE ISAAC BRUCE, DONNIE SHELL AS HONORARY COACHES
CANTON, OHIO – Two members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Centennial Class of 2020 will serve as honorary coaches when a local all-star football game is revived this summer after a two-year absence.
ISAAC BRUCE and DONNIE SHELL will be on the sidelines July 23 when the first Pro Football Hall of Fame East-West All-Star Football Game kicks off at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium at 7 p.m. Bruce will join Mark Geis, head coach of Green High School, and his three assistants in directing the West squad. Shell will join Brian Gamble, head coach of Sandy Valley High School, and his three assistants with the East squad.
“The Pro Football Hall of Fame is proud to pick up the East-West All-Star Game and get seniors on the field with high school classmates and new friends from neighboring schools one more time before they start the next chapters in their lives,” Hall President Jim Porter said. “And with Hall of Famers of the caliber of Isaac Bruce and Donnie Shell providing not only insight about how to play the game of football, but also about living a hall of fame life, this experience will create memories that will last a lifetime.”
The game will be the 31st meeting of the East and West teams, but the first since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canton Repository had sponsored the game since its inception in 1990.
“The community is grateful for the Repository’s involvement with the game for the past 30 years. The Hall is honored to take the handoff and keep this event going,” Porter said.
He also thanked the team at Hall of Fame Village powered by Johnson Controls for providing access to Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium and adjacent practice fields the teams may use leading up to the game.
“We are thrilled to join the Pro Football Hall of Fame in continuing to deliver a first-class event for our Stark County football community,” said Kevin Tobin, co-director of the game with Ross Rankin. “Including Pro Football Hall of Famers Donnie Shell and Isaac Bruce will be an incredible experience for the players.”
Rounding out Gamble’s staff will be coaches Brian Baum of North Canton Hoover, Tim Goodman of Alliance and Brian Reidenbach of Sandy Valley. Along with Shell, they will direct players from Alliance, Canton McKinley, East Canton, GlenOak, Louisville, Marlington, Minerva, North Canton Hoover and Sandy Valley high schools.
Coaches A.J. Sarbaugh and Eric Brock of Fairless and Ryan Murphy of Green will join Geis and Bruce in leading players from Canton Central Catholic, Canton South, Fairless, Green, Jackson, Lake, Massillon Washington, Northwest, Perry and Tuslaw on the West team.
Player rosters, comprised of Class of 2022 graduates, will be finalized and announced soon.
The game concludes several days of special events celebrating high school football, including the induction of a new class into the Stark County High School Football Hall of Fame. This year’s class is comprised of Lance Burick, Eric Heinzer, Larry Laursel, Josh McDaniels, Tim Powell, Herman “Bup” Rearick and Zach Slates.
The induction banquet will be held on the evening of July 22 (time TBD) at the Nash Family Event & Conference Center at the Hall of Fame.
The week of practice and events leading up to the game also will include a kicking contest, a longtime staple of the series. This year’s winner will take a 16-15 lead in the rivalry. The East won the inaugural game in 1990 with a 38-0 shutout. The West won the most recent game, 28-10, to draw even all time.
Bruce and Shell will be much more involved than their “honorary” title might suggest. In addition to assisting on the sidelines during the game, they will speak to the teams at the annual Player-Parent Dinner on July 21, provide on-field instruction at the final practice July 22 and attend the Stark County High School Football Hall of Fame induction banquet July 22.
Tickets for the game will be $10 and are available at www.profootballhof.com/events/2022/07/east-west-all-star-game/.