Who: North vs. South All-Stars
Where: Indianapolis North Central
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Area North players: Jose Flores, Snider; Casey Baker, Bishop Luers; Justice Caley, Leo; John Essex, Wawasee; Gage Corner, Leo; Zach Terrell, Homestead; John Nelson, Snider; Seth Biberstine, Southern Wells; Todd Frickey, Garrett; Evan Feichter, Bishop Dwenger
Area North coaches: Jared Sauder, Leo; Mike Zent, Leo
Admission: $8 adults; $5 students
FORT WAYNE — Leo graduate Gage Corner was fortunate to even return to the football field, let alone being an All-Star. But here is the receiver playing for the North team at the annual game against the South on Friday at Indianapolis North Central.
After spending three weeks late in the season sidelined with a bruised kidney, Corner’s prep football future was in doubt.
“The rules for the thing I had are, nine weeks you aren’t allowed to do anything,” Corner said. “I told the doctor I couldn’t let that happen even if I wasn’t 100 percent. Me and my family talked him into letting me play, and I had to wear the kidney protector, of course, and made sure I ate healthy.
“It was hard, especially for it to come in practice before some of the late games in our season. I knew I wasn’t going to come back 100 percent, and it would affect the rest of the year. I was on the sidelines the whole time talking with my teammates and making sure they knew that nothing was going to change with our success.”
After suffering the injury during a practice before the regular-season finale against Bluffton, Corner returned in the Class 4A sectional finals against Bishop Dwenger three weeks later and helped the Lions to a win. The Lions’ (13-1) best season in school history ended with a 13-3 loss to South Bend Washington in the semistate.
“Those three weeks he was hurt, he was still a leader for our team,” Leo coach Jared Sauder said. “He did everything he could to get back. That’s an injury that should put you out for longer. He was determined to get back and help the team. It shows you his toughness coming back from that.”
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Corner finished the season as the team’s leading receiver with 36 catches for 840 yards and 11 touchdowns and joins ex-teammate Justice Caley, Sauder and Leo defensive coordinator Mike Zent on the North squad.
“I was excited when I heard about the opportunity,” Corner said of being named an All-Star. “First, I thought about the accomplishments that I had, and then second I thought about the success we had as a team, and everything we did, and my teammates making me better every single day.”
Corner, who is headed to Wittenberg University, a NCAA Division III school in Springfield, Ohio, to play college football, holds most of the school’s career receiving records with 80 catches for 1,500 yards and 25 touchdowns.
“In the seventh and eighth grade and as a freshman, I was so much smaller than everybody,” Corner said.
“(The coaches) told me that some guys who are built like you work hard and ended up being successful and luckily for me I took them seriously and got to the point I am now.”
The big numbers, though, to Corner are Leo’s 25-3 record the past two seasons and trips to two semistate games, one in 3A and 4A.
“As a freshman and seeing those seniors start this, and then being part of it as a senior myself is just such an honor,” he said.