By Rob Kiser
CANTON — Piqua linebacker’s Ben Schmiesing’s journey to the next level will begin soon enough when he heads over to Ohio State in June.
But, the senior got to put on the Piqua helmet one more time Saturday, playing in the North-South All-Star game at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.
“It was an opportunity I never expected to come,” Schmiesing said. “But, it was great to get out on the field — especially with the caliber of players that were there. Playing with and against some of the best players in the state.”
The preparation for the game began several weeks ago.
“We (the South team) all got together several weeks ago,” Schmiesing said. “Then, we got up to Massillon on Wednesday and stayed in hotel Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We practiced all three days.”
And the game was a competitive won, but the North came out on top 20-18.
“Our kicker was injured in warmups,” Schmiesing said. “So, we weren’t able to kick on extra points. We missed all three extra points and that ended up costing us the game. We lost on a last-second field goal.”
But, for Schmiesing, it was a great experience.
“I think I had seven tackles,” he said. “But, just to get out there and play against that caliber of competition. It definitely is (great preparation for this summer at Ohio State).”
And Schmiesing did not disappoint.
“We have been fortunate at Piqua to have a number of guys play in the game,” Piqua football coach Bill Nees said. “And Ben (Schmiesing) represented Piqua well. He probably played as well as anybody we have play in these games. He was close to 10 tackles.”
And Nees said it worked out well for Schmiesing as far as getting ready to head to Ohio State.
“Especially, considering the caliber of players he was playing against,” Nees said. “To play most of the game and play as well as he did, that will give him the confidence he needs (headed to the next level).”
And Schmiesing knows after an amazing career at Piqua, the next step will be a big challenge.
On defense over the last three years, he had 225 tackles, with three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and seven interceptions, with two returned for touchdowns.
On offense over the last two seasons, he rushed for 1,502 yards and 21 touchdowns on 255 carries and caught 26 passes for 371 yards and four touchdowns.
“I go over there (to Ohio State) on June 5,” he said. “I will start with the summer conditioning and workouts then. I know as a freshman, it will be almost impossible to get on the field. I just want to work hard, eventually find a spot on special teams and use that to work my way up to a position on defense. But, it is going to be tough.”
But, Schmiesing was happy to put the Piqua helmet on one last time.
“It was great,” he said. “Coach (Bill) Nees, coach (Rick) Krejci and coach (Eric) Barge all came up to see me play. It was a really great experience. I have been doing workouts for the last month or so (to get ready for Ohio State). It was great just to get back out on the football field.”
And make Piqua proud one last time at the high school level — before taking his game to the college level.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.