Essex will take the field as a high school representative one last time on July 13 as a tight end for the Northern Indiana All-Stars when the Indiana North team will take on the South at North Central (Indianapolis) High School. Essex was selected by a panel of coaches from around the state.
“I’m just trying to keep lifting and running, working on stuff at the high school,” said Essex, who will continue his football career at Trine University in the fall. “I’ve been working out with my high school quarterback Bauer Schmeltz (Wabash College recruit). I’m up for the challenge.”
Essex did not have eye-popping numbers as a tight end, but did more than just rack up figures on the stat sheet. In 2011, Essex had just eight catches for 157 yards and three touchdowns, but played in all 10 games and was a highly effective pass and run blocker. Those attributes caught the eye of Trine, who Essex noted just after signing day could be looking at him for offensive line duty.
Essex also was a standout on defense at the end position, gathering 19 solo and 39 assisted tackles, seven tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery his senior season. As a junior, Essex had nine tackles for loss and five sacks to help career numbers of 127 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss, seven sacks and two fumble recoveries. As a tight end, Essex had 11 catches for 204 yards and three scores in three years of varsity ball.
“I’m not sure what to expect,” Essex said of the All-Star game and the opponents from southern Indiana. “I know on our team there are a couple kids from our conference. There is a lot of good talent. But I really don’t know much about the south.”
Local players joining Essex on offense are offensive linemen Abraham Hall of Bremen and Evan Chanley of NorthWood. Hall was a state champion wrestler at 285 pounds. On the defensive side of the ball are Jarrett Settles of Concord and Sam Laidig of Penn at linebacker, and a pair of defensive linemen in Dylan Heyvaert of Penn and Dominque Stauffer of Elkhart Central, coincidently Stauffer was Hall’s opponent in the state championship wrestling match.
South Bend sends a quartet of players in Clay quarterback Justin Laureys, Washington defensive back Alfonso Mack and St. Joe sends a pair in defensive back Collin Hickey and offensive lineman Jason Mulligan. Former Wawasee opponent Garrett is sending speedy defensive back Todd Frickey.
The North-South All-Star Game will kick off at 7 p.m., a series which the South leads 24-21 all-time, but the North has won three of the previous four showcases. Proceeds from the game will go to benefit Camp Riley and Riley Children’s Hospital as well as the Indiana Football Hall of Fame.