Jackie Collins was more than happy to cook up a pregame meal for the players before Saturday's Sandusky-Vermilion alumni football game.
But the former Blue Streak players had to be there early to eat.
“I told the guys I would get them their pregame meal,” Collins said. “But I told them, 'We're having it at 1 p.m. sharp, because you guys need time for your food to digest. You guys aren't as young as you used to be.'”
With temperatures reaching the mid-80s Saturday, much of the pre-game vibe at the tailgate party before the game revolved around guys being in shape. However, the biggest thing revolving around the anticipation for the game was excitement.
“It's so awesome to see guys who have been so successful on and off the field,” Sandusky football coach Mike Franklin said. Franklin was a former quarterback for the Blue Streaks 25 years ago. “I know it's an alumni game, but it's almost like an All-Star game when you look at some of the guys who are here. I mean, we are talking some of the best players who have ever played here.
“They've worked hard and had a few practices with Coach (Larry) Cook,” he added. “We want to keep everyone healthy, obviously, but this has been very fun to watch come together. I can't wait to see El Da' Sheon (Nix) play, because I was just an assistant when he played. But it's great seeing them all.”
Franklin said the highlight of the week was the pregame aspect.
“It's this moment … seeing guys this age getting excited to play a football game and get after it,” he said. “This is a great concept that I think can grow bigger in many communities. It's a great thing to be a part of.”
SHS athletic director Shawn Coakley was helping out Saturday, and expressed he was just happy to participate in any capacity.
“It's great to see the turnout of people coming back to their alma mater to do something they are passionate about and have a love for,” he said. “If you talk to any athlete, as they age, the thing they miss the most is the camaraderie of the locker room. The games become less important, and the people you played with are really what it's all about.
“I know just from seeing these guys today, you can see just how excited they are to see their old classmates and play with them,” Coakley added. “And another neat part is seeing some of the younger guys who maybe grew up watching or idolizing them, and now they all get to be together on the field at the same time. It's pretty cool. Although we're not all as young as we used to be, it's a little warm, so hopefully everyone stays healthy and we all have a good time tonight.”
Collins, a fixture at SHS sporting events for more than three decades, said she was thrilled to see Larry Cook back out on the sideline calling plays. Cook was the coach at Sandusky from 1984-2000, compiling a 110-66 record while reaching the playoffs three times and going unbeaten in the regular season twice.
“When Coach Cook called the play, everyone knew what it was,” Collins said. “I was impressed. And some of them have not lost a step, so I think it could be a pretty good game. To see the kids I've seen come through the system the last 33 years, it is absolutely awesome.
“People that come out to the game tonight are going to be impressed,” she added. “To hear Larry Cook bark things at them young men again … good times. The city should be proud these guys are coming back to play this game for charity. Whatever they make tonight is going back to our community.”