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Former Columbus North quarterback Kyle Kamman looks for an open receiver during last year's preseason scrimmage against Mooresville. Kamman is one of three quarterbacks on the South roster for Friday's Grange Insurance/Indiana Football Coaches Association North-South game. PHOTO BY ANDREW LAKER
There’s bound to be some eye-rubbing going on when Kyle Kamman connects with Luke Hampton in the Grange Insurance/Indiana Football Coaches Association North-South game at North Central in Indianapolis.
They used to be high school rivals. Not anymore.
Kamman, a former Columbus North quarterback, and Hampton, an ex-Columbus East wide receiver, spent summer days playing pitch and catch, working on their timing for Friday’s big game, scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
“(Hampton) and I have been throwing a lot,” said Kamman, who plans to play football at Ball State. “It’s kind of funny throwing around with a guy from East.”
Practices began Monday for the 46th installment of the all-star series. The South leads the North 24-21.
Kamman, who threw for 2,095 yards and 20 touchdowns for the 8-4 Bull Dogs in 2011, is one of three quarterbacks on the South roster. The others are Westfield’s Wade Burtron and Evansville Bosse’s Jalen Pendleton.
“I’m not positive how they’re going to do the snaps,” Kamman said. “But I’m just looking to prove I’m the better quarterback.”
Hampton, who caught 45 passes for 982 yards and 12 touchdowns for the 12-2 Olympians in 2011, will be one of four South receivers snagging footballs Friday. The University of Findlay-bound playmaker will split time with Guerin Catholic’s Mitchell Paige, Avon’s Lance Magee and Lawrence Central’s Marcellion Gardner.
“I’m really excited,” Hampton said. “I’m just excited to go out there and have a good time and represent the town of Columbus.”
Though Hampton and Kamman went to difference schools, they grew up a Hail Mary away from each other, near Harrison Lake.
Hampton became accustomed to catching footballs from Gunner Kiel, the 2011 Mr. Football and current Notre Dame quarterback. He said Kamman and Kiel both are good quarterbacks despite their different styles.
“Kyle is pretty mobile,” Hampton said. “He throws a good ball. He’s just a little bit different than Gunner.”
Columbus North coach Tim Bless looked to Kamman to lead the Bull Dogs, and that he did, combining to go 15-7 in two years as a starter. He graduated in the spring with the second-most passing yards (3,940) in school history and was named first-team all-Conference Indiana and honorable mention All-State by the Associated Press.
“His strongest attributes are his competitiveness and his leadership,” Bless said. “And I’m sure that will be on display. I think he will earn the respect of his peers in a short amount of time.”
Hampton blossomed into Gunner Kiel’s go-to receiver in 2011. He caught two long touchdown passes from Kiel on a nationally-televised game on Aug. 26. Despite Hampton’s best efforts, the Bull Dogs beat the Os on ESPNU 45-40.
“He’s a tremendous worker,” East coach Bob Gaddis said of Hampton. “He knew the thing that he had was good speed, so he went out to become a great route-runner. ... He became a good big-play receiver for us.”
Hampton was named all-Hoosier Hills Conference and to the Indiana Football Coaches Association All-State team as a senior. He leaves for Division II Findlay (Ohio) early next month.
“I’ve been doing some summer workouts here, and I’ve been up to school and done some workouts there,” he said. “You just have to get over the heat. I just look at it is it’s hot for everybody. You can’t really make excuses.”
Friday’s temperatures are expected to bottom out at sub-70 degrees, according to weather.com. That’s cold compared to the insufferable heat of late.
What else would be cool? Hampton said catching a touchdown pass from Kamman would be a good way to finish up his prep career.
It might make Columbus East fans’ eyes sore, but “that would be pretty cool,” Hampton said.
“I know Kyle really well,” Hampton said. “Even though there’s the East-North rivalry, we’re friends.”
And on Friday night they’ll be more than that. They’ll be teammates for one game and one game only.
“It will be great,” Gaddis said. “Those guys won’t have any trouble getting along.”
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