By Mike Deak
ANDERSON – He admitted he was a little rusty and a lot sore. Still, that didn’t bother Juan Jaramillo enough to take on some of the state’s best football players in Friday’s IFCA North-South All-Star Game at Anderson University.
The Warsaw senior hadn’t put on the pads and black helmet since the Tigers were knocked out of the IHSAA state tournament at the hands of Homestead in early November. After a couple days of practice earlier in the week, Jaramillo noted he was out of football shape. But with the chance to put on one more performance as part of the All-Star showcase, the pain was worth the gain.
“My whole body was sore, I definitely felt it,” Jaramillo said after Thursday’s practice. “It was hard to get back into shape like I was in the season. Getting back to do it, it’s tough, man.”
The South All-Stars were the well-oiled machine Friday night in the actual game, cruising to a 45-7 victory.
The Tiger back, who accumulated 990 rushing yards as a senior and nearly 2,800 yards in his three years of varsity service, didn’t get a carry in Friday night’s game. Helps with the aches and pains from earlier in the week, at least.
“For me, I didn’t want to go to college to play football,” Jaramillo said. “I accomplished more than what I had in mind in high school. I leave my high school career with no regrets, I’m happy with how my career went and feel blessed to have had the success that I had.”
Warsaw assistant coach Kris Hueber returned to the All-Star platform he once performed. As a North All-Star in 2001, Hueber was part of a nasty Tiger defense that won three straight Northern Lakes Conference championships and capped his prep career with a spot on the All-Star roster.
Hueber, who was selected as a defensive coach for the 2020 game that was wiped out by COVID, came back on as an assistant for 2021. Returning after 20 years was a treat, and a reality check of where the game has evolved.
“The size is unique,” Hueber noted of the 2021 All-Star makeup. “We play against some big boys up front during the season. Both lines have some hosses, and they can move people. It was an adjustment our secondary had to make after the first day here.
“When I played in school, our line was very gifted with size and a lot of meanness,” Hueber continued. “I’ve seen the transition. We are using more strength and weight training. They start earlier. Now they are bigger, stronger and faster. In 2001, we had to play against four D1 kids who went to the NFL. Now you don’t see that, they are already enrolled. But that doesn’t mean the kids out here this week aren’t impressive, because they are. They are really well-put-together humans.”