Forty-one Pennsylvania players will play their final high school football game tonight at the Big 30 Charities Classic at Parkway Field in Bradford. The 47th edition of the New York vs. PA series kicks off at 7 p.m.
Ridgway head coach Mark Heindl and assistants Rick Viglione, Mickey Delhunty, Jack Kifer, and Tony Defilippi are guiding the team.
Elkers Alex Bon, Dominic Cherry, Ricky Delhunty, and Austin Scruggs, Kane's Josh Buhl, Reese Novosel, Bobby Rumcik, Zuke Smith, and Gus Traugott; Nick Crisp, Sam Kaul, Bryan Schatz, Mitchell Troha, and Alex Smith from Elk County Catholic and Dutchmen James Davis, Simon Sheeley, Garrett Bauer, Terry Williams III, and Conner Bressler are included on the roster. Other players are from Eisenhower, Otto-Eldred, Port Allegany, Smethport, and Warren.
Things will get serious once the pregame hype is over and the ball is in the air.
"The intensity will definitely be there, especially since the kids know this is it," said Heindl. "For the forty-one kids on our squad, there's about six moving on to the next level. For the other thirty-five, their football careers will be over. So we think they're going to leave it all on the field. If practice is a reflection of their work ethic, you're going to see something special."
Kane's Smith, who will be sharing quarterback duties with Eisenhower's Owen Trumbull, is one of the players moving on. He'll play the position at Alfred University, which starts practice next week.
It's the second all-star appearance for 27 PA players who represented the North at the Varischetti Football All-Star Game won by the South on June 25 – 14-12. Bon, Cherry, Delhunty, Buhl, Novosel, Rumcik, Smith, Crisp, Kaul, Schatz, Baur, Bressler, Sheeley, and Williams played in the game.
Twenty of the players will be on offense and twenty-one on defense. While practically all played both sides of the ball during the season, rules require them to play on one side in the Big 30 Game.
Heindl talked about how positions were determined.
"When the committee picks them, they're selected on certain sides of the ball. Obviously, you can switch guys around as needed, but the kids that came in here were ready to go. They understand their positions and their roles. The rules are for both sides that don't benefit one side or the other."
While Pennsylvania played a limited schedule in the fall, which saw the Big 30 teams play within the IU9 Bubble (until playoffs), New York schools that opted to play did so in the spring.
Like PA, the Empire State has a mix of size and speed. The squad is led by Wellsville Central head coach Frank Brown and assistants Ron Beckwith, Bryan Riccaldo, Evan Enke, and Wayne Stonemetz.
Various Big 30 Committee representatives who've seen both teams feel the game is evenly matched with perhaps a slight edge to New York in quickness and size.
"It's easy if the game is played on paper, but it's not," said Heindl. "These guys are going to lay it all on the line. Like we say in our program, whatever team makes the least amount of mistakes will be in a good position to win at the end of the day. Hopefully, that's us."
Johnsonburg Homecoming Queen Mackenzie Freeman, Sarri Swanson from Kane, and St. Marys Queen Samantha Vavala will also participate in the festivities.
Since last year's game was postponed due to COVID, those selected to participate will be honored at halftime.
The 2019 game ended 27-27. Pennsylvania had won the previous three and can tie the all-time series currently led by New York 22-21-3.
The busy day in Bradford begins with the Big 30 Parade beginning at 2:30 p.m. The gates to Parkway Field will open at 5 p.m.
WESB – 107.5 FM, 1490 AM in Bradford will broadcast the game. The Big 30 Committee provided a Facebook link for the live stream of the game - Facebook: https://fb.watch/7dnJSvWdKk/
Pennsylvania Offensive Roster
#1 Troy Ayers (WR) – Port Allegany, #2 Donovan Fiscus (TE) – Warren, #6 Alex Borger (RB/HB) – Warren, #7 Taro Tanaka (RB,G) – Port Allegany, #10 Ethan Smith (WR) – Otto-Eldred, #12 Sam Kaul (RB/SB) – Elk County Catholic, #14 Zuke Smith (QB) – Kane, #17 Owen Trumbull (QB) – Eisenhower, #25 Josh Buhl (RB/FB) – Kane, #28 Dillon Benson (WR) – Eisenhower, #51 Derek Kallenborn (C) - Port Allegany, #52 Simon Sheeley (G) – St. Marys, #55 – Garret Bauer (G) – St. Marys, #56 Alex Liners (G) – Bradford, #62 Reese Novosel (C, G, T), #67 Kyle McWilliams – Bradford (G,T), #71 Brody Porter (T) – Eisenhower, #76 Mitchell Troha (G) – Elk County Catholic, #77 Alex Smith (T) – Elk County Catholic, #82 Alex Bon (TE) – Ridgway.
Pennsylvania Defensive Roster
#3 Braedon Johnson (SS/OLB) – Smethport, #4 Jake Merry (S), #9 Zane Alexander (S) – Warren, #13 Dominic Cherry (CB) – Ridgway, #15 Nick Crisp (MLB/OLB/DB/SS) – Elk County Catholic, #16 James Davis (S) – St. Marys, #22 TJ VanScoter (MLB) – Otto-Eldred, #23 Terry Williams (CB) – St. Marys, #26 Ryli Burritt (CB) – Smethport, #32 Bobby Rumcik (S/OLB), #33 Ricky Delhunty (MLB) – Ridgway, #42 Jared Beers (MLB) – Eisenhower, #48 Bryan Schatz (DE/MLB) – Elk County Catholic, #49 Connor Bressler (OLB) – St. Marys, #53 Adenn Stevens (DT/NT) – Smethport, #57 Justin Young (DT) – Port Allegany, #63 Kameron Rounsville (DE/LB) – Smethport, #65 Zazeric Bell (DE) – Otto-Eldred, #66 Ryan Hughes (DT/DE) – Bradford, #68 Gus Traugott (DE/DT) – Kane, #75 Austin Scruggs (DT).