Daizhon Cox is unsure if he will have another chance to put on his shoulder pads or fasten his helmet’s chin strap. The 6-foot-1, 250-pound defender has other plans for his future.
But Cox got one last chance to shine at the Central District All-Star Game on a high school football field. He grabbed a fumble and took it 68 yards for a touchdown, helping the red team to a 38-14 win over the blue team on June 18 at Harvest Prep.
Blue Dublin Scioto quarterback Amare Jenkins stumbled trying to dodge Cox and the pass rush, dropping the ball along the way. It was the third rally in as many possessions as the Reds built a 16-0 lead that they took into halftime.
“I tracked my progress and sat down and the ball was right there,” said Cox. “I tried to run as fast as possible. I knew I had some people blocking for me and I knew the quarterback wouldn’t catch me because quarterbacks often don’t like chasing you. I believed in my head that I could do it and I did it.”
Cox, a graduate of Columbus South, will visit Ohio State where he will major in Public Policy with a minor in Political Science.
“A future mayor,” Cox said, smiling.
He is hoping to gain a foothold with the club team but nothing is decided yet.
“I’m going to OSU on an academic scholarship,” said Cox, who was named Defensive Player of the Game for the Reds. “Getting that touchdown meant a lot to me because it might be the last time I play football. I hope to make the club team. The coaches came and watched, so we’ll see.”
For red quarterback Tyler Love, who threw three touchdown passes, the game was the culmination of a long journey through his high school career.
Love, who was named Offensive Player of the Game for the Reds, almost quit after his freshman year.
“During my freshman year, I didn’t really think I was going to make it,” said the Teays Valley graduate. “I was tiny. I was really small. So I started building as much size as possible and got to where I wanted to be.”
Love found Columbus East’s Ishmael Spann for two touchdowns, both on short passes. Spann used the first 46 yards to give the Reds an 8-0 lead in the first quarter. He added a 13-yard catch-and-run early in the fourth to make it 24-8.
Red added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter on a 6-yard run by Pickerington Central’s Olando Kamara and a 65-yard screen pass by Love to Whitehall-Yearling’s Taron Biles-Walker.
Northland’s Rayvon Ivery scooped and scored 30 yards in the third quarter to reduce Blue’s lead to 16-8, and New Albany’s Jadyn Garnes added a 5-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
“It was all about hard work and dedication,” said Ivery, a linebacker. “I just wanted that touchdown. I had to get it. I wanted to get us back in the game so we could get that momentum.
The two were respectively defensive and offensive player of the game for the Blues.
For the game’s organizer, Maurice “Jumbo” Harrell, it was the culmination of a two-year wait due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a great crowd out here,” said Harrell, who has led the event since 2013. “I commend the children. They came to practice every day in record-breaking heat. Now they are part of the Central District All-Star family.”