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Knights lead North to All-Star victory

Monday, June 26, 2006

Andy McCammon photo

Jamie Bays (top) is lifted by North and former Northview teammate Neil Vanatti after Bays scored his fourth touchdown of the game.

With a record-shattering performance in Saturday's Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association All-Star Game, Northview graduate Jamie Bays surprised just about everyone.

The diminutive running back dropped jaws up and down both sidelines. Media personnel stood aghast as he tore up and down Rose Hulman's Phil Brown field, splitting defenders twice his size on cue. A crowd of 3,500 gaped as Bays glided into the end zone again and again and again.

Compared to anyone else watching the game, the three other former Knights selected as All-Stars reacted to their teammate's performance with relative nonchalance.

"I knew he was that good," said Dean Netzler, a linebacker for the North All-Stars and Bays' teammate at Northview. "He's been running over everybody this year. He's a game player. He came to play."

On the second play from scrimmage in the first quarter, Bays broke through the South All-Stars' defensive line for a 21-yard gain. By the time the game ended, he had amassed 258 yards on 20 carries, including a 71-yard touchdown jaunt that extended the North lead to 27-20 on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Buoyed by Bays' four-touchdown performance, a Netzler interception and solid efforts by former Knights Neil Vanatti and Devon Chamberlain, the North All-Stars dispatched the South squad 41-34 in the second-annual WVFCA All-Star Game.

North Head Coach Hank Lopez, who helms Riverton Parke during the regular season, admitted he didn't envision Bays as his go-to running back.

"Honestly, he played well above our expectations," he said. "He ran hard through the holes. Our (offensive) line did a good job, and he got it in there.

All in all, Lopez said, the four former Knights served him well.

"The Northview kids helped us out a little bit."

Bays, who will play for Marian College in the school's inaugural football season in 2007, broke a number of WVFCA All-Star Game records.

The game may only be in its second season, but the marks set by Bays for rushing yards (258, topping the 89 yards posted by West Vigo's Shawn Sullivan last year), longest run (71 yards, to Sullivan's 30 in '05) and rush attempts (20, four more than Sullivan's 16) could be hard to top in future all-star games.

He credited his offensive linemen with setting the stage for his star-making performance.

"They were opening up some pretty big holes. All I did was run through 'em," he said.

Though overshadowed by Bays, the other three Northview alumni in North All-Star uniforms turned in solid performances.

Netzler intercepted an Anthony Thomasino (South Putnam) pass in the third quarter to preserve a 21-20 North lead. He finished with three solo tackles and an assist.

Vanatti posted three solo stops, two assists and a pair of quarterback hurries. Chamberlain, playing wide receiver in a run-only North offense, compensated on defense with a pair of assists.

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