Week 1: Athens 30, Port A 14





Lori Chase
Sept. 5, 2013

Early in Friday night’s season opener against the visiting Athens Wildcats, in the first home football game under the lights in Port Allegany High School history, it looked like it was going to be business as usual as Port sprinted to an early two-touchdown lead.

But as the game wore on, injuries to key players and an overall lack of depth – what coach Mike Bodamer described as his “worst nightmare come true” – took their toll on his young squad, and Athens, a Class AA school from District 4, rebounded to wear down the Gators in a 30-14 non-league victory. The loss was the first for Port this side of the state playoffs since dropping a 25-19 decision to Elk County Catholic in Week 4 of the 2011 campaign, snapping a span of 14 regular-season wins.

Running back Tyler Shaffer, dubbed the “workhorse of the team” by Bodamer in preseason interviews, looked more like a thoroughbred, galloping down the Port sideline on touchdown runs of 84 and 77 yards – the first on a fake punt, the second sprung by a solid block from Chad Gaines to seal the edge – to give the Gators a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.

But with the offense once again on the move, the game changed when Shaffer came up limping on his next carry. With the senior standout sidelined, trying to walk off the effects of taking a helmet to the hip, the Wildcats keyed on shutting down sophomore quarterback Jordan Seefeldt and the Port passing game.

“That’s what I’ve said from the very beginning, injuries are going to kill us. (Shaffer) goes out, our offense is going to stall bigtime. We don’t have the threat of the run, so everyone tees off on the pass, and Jordan’s just a young quarterback who’s got to get used to (the position),” Bodamer said of Seefeldt, who was making his first varsity start.

Athens didn’t waste any time taking advantage of the situation. Mixing an efficient passing attack behind senior quarterback Troy Stivason with some strong running by Brandon Sturzenegger and Tyler Forbes, the Wildcats grabbed the momentum, scoring on back-to-back drives and adding a 40-yard field goal from Division 1 kicking prospect Stivason late in the first half to claim a 17-14 lead.

The Gators regrouped in the two-minute drill, with Seefeldt finding Cory Burr deep downfield for gains of 37 and 24 yards. But just when it looked like they were about to score the go-ahead touchdown, a hard hit from Forbes at the Athens 1 forced a fumble into the end zone, with only a trio of white-jerseyed Wildcats in position to recover.

“He read that, and he just laid a smack on the kid and popped the ball loose,” said Athens coach Jack Young after earning his 100th career win and the program’s 499th. “We talk about that stuff – when a team’s driving, don’t hang your heads. Somebody’s got to step up and make a play, and that’s what Tyler did right there. We were very fortunate; it could have been a 21-17 game at halftime.”

Both defenses took control in the third quarter, turning the game into a field-position battle with the deeper, bigger Wildcats slowly pushing the Gators further into their own end of the field. Late in the quarter, a long punt return by Forbes put Athens at the Port 29, setting up his halfback-option toss to a wide-open Cody Cain on the next play for a touchdown and a 24-14 lead.

From there, the Wildcats went into ground-and-pound mode, chewing up more than six minutes of the fourth quarter on a 12-play, 73-yard drive against a tired Gator defense for a final score to put the game away and make the long drive back to Bradford County a little easier to endure.

“They were big and physical up front. The kids got pushed around a little bit, but in the second and third quarter they found their stride and made some nice stops. The fourth quarter … we just completely ran out of gas in the fourth quarter. That’s what happens, you give up a couple of late ones, it makes it look a lot worse than what it was,” Bodamer said.

Shaffer led all rushers with 164 yards on just five carries before going out for good after a single third-quarter attempt. R.J. Veilleux finished with 44 yards on seven carries, while Sturzenegger netted 119 and Forbes added another 50 for Athens. Burr staked an early claim as the leader of the Gator receiving corps, hauling in half of Seefeldt’s 14 completions in 31 attempts for a game-high 113 yards.

With several players nicked up, Bodamer’s squad doesn’t have much time to recuperate before heading to Kane next Friday night for its second consecutive game against a Class AA team. The Wolves were less than a minute away from joining the Gators as District 9 champions last November before losing a 33-27 heartbreaker to Karns City and appear to be in position to make a return trip this season, allowing Sheffield just 51 yards of total offense as they drilled the Wolverines 34-6 in last week’s season opener.

Bodamer’s gameplan against the Wolves – who, like Athens, list more than 40 players on their varsity roster to the Gators’ 28?

“Get another 20 kids on the team?” he said with a rueful chuckle.

Reflecting on the Athens game, he concluded, “The kids gave it their all. We had mental mistakes, but I think a lot of it was the idea that they were just so tired and banged-up and hurting. Your brain just doesn’t work as well then. We’re just so low on numbers, I knew that was going to happen.”

At Port Allegany, Aug. 30:

Score by quarters:
Athens Wildcats 14 3 7 6 30
Port Allegany Gators 14 0 0 0 14

First Quarter
PA (11:06) – Tyler Shaffer 84 run, Shaffer run, 8-0
PA (9:20) – Shaffer 77 run, pass failed, 14-0
A (6:02) – Adam Hunsinger 14 pass from Troy Stivason, Stivason kick, 14-7
A (0:06) – Tyler Forbes 3 run, Stivason kick, 14-14

Second Quarter
A (1:47) – Stivason 40 field goal, 14-17

Third Quarter
A (1:39) – Cody Cain 29 pass from Forbes, Stivason kick, 14-24

Fourth Quarter
A (3:35) – Brandon Sturzenegger 10 run, kick blocked, 14-30.

Team Statistics: Athens Port A
First downs 15 11
Total Yards 299 348
Rushes-Yards 39-162 24-192
Passing Yards 137 154
Comp-Att-Int 10-15-0 13-30-0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 3-1
Punts-Avg. 4-34.0 7-31.9
Penalties-Yards 9-65 6-40
Total Plays 54 54

Individual statistics:

Rushing: Athens – Sturzenegger 21-98, Forbes 12-50, Stivason 4-13, Vargason 2-1. Port Allegany – Shaffer 5-164, Veilleux 7-44, Tanner 1-9, Seefeldt 9-(-12), team 2-(-13).

Passing: Athens – Stivason 9-14-0-108, Forbes 1-1-0-29. Port Allegany – Seefeldt 13-30-0-154.

Receiving: Athens – Hunsinger 3-51, Cain 2-39, Shadduck 3-29, Vargason 1-15, Forbes 1-8. Port Allegany – Burr 7-113, Lashway 4-31, Gaines 1-10, Veilleux 1-0.

(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)

Week 1: Athens at Port Allegany (and info on D9Sports.com postgame show)



7:00 PM ET


SERIES RECORD: This is the first meeting between the two schools. Port Allegany hasn’t played a team from District 4 since 1991, when they finished a six-game series with Cowanesque Valley with a 13-0 win over the Indians.

RADIO: A new local postgame show makes its debut tonight, hosted by Dustin Kifer and Chris Rossetti of D9Sports.com from 9:30 – 11:00 p.m.

“The RRR Roadhouse Friday Night Overtime Show with D9Sports.com will be a traditional wrap-up show that includes scores from around District 9, live reports from select games and analysis of what it all means each week during the 2013 season. The plan is to cover all 25 District 9 football teams every Friday night with scores and highlights from the games and live reports from reporters at select games.”


(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)

PAHS Football: 2013 preview

A new chapter in Port Allegany High School football begins this week.
Following a major remodeling project that started last spring, the Gators will officially debut their upgraded facility on Friday, Aug. 30, when they host District 4’s Athens Wildcats for the first home night game in the 100-year history of the program.
Not just the lights, bleachers, and pressbox are new, though. It will be a different look on the field, too, with lineman Brandon Raymo the only returning full-time starter from the team that shredded the District 9 and PIAA record books last fall on its run to the state semifinals. Will Mike Bodamer’s young squad be ready for prime time?
Hold that thought. The core of the back-to-back D-9 champions may have moved on via graduation, but there’s still some talent at Gator Field. More than anything, despite 20 returning lettermen, it’s the size of his roster that concerns the ninth-year head coach.
“You have to take every year differently,” said Bodamer, whose glittering 25-3 record the last two seasons improved his career mark to 56-32. “Last year, those kids knew what they wanted to accomplish. This year, we basically have two starters back. The others got a lot of playing time, but they’re still relatively young and inexperienced. I really don’t know what they expect.
“A kid like Brandon Raymo, he knows how to win and knows what it takes to win. He and Tyler Shaffer come gametime will be fine, but they’re going to have to pick the other nine kids up and lead the way, show them what it takes. At this point we’re just really unsure. I know we have the talent – we have 15 kids that can really play well – but whether or not we can sustain a whole game with that lack of depth is going to be the big question.”
With all-time PIAA passing leader Matt Bodamer now at Edinboro, sophomore Jordan Seefeldt takes over the reins of coordinator Jason Luther’s multiple-concept spread offense. Seeing significant playing time as Bodamer’s backup last season, Seefeldt completed 26 of 38 passes for 229 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions and also rushed for 91 yards and a score.
“He’s really improved in these first two weeks,” Mike Bodamer said. “The first scrimmage down at Curwensville, he hit all the receivers right in the chest. I think he was 6-for-9 for 80 yards or so, which is pretty productive for 20 plays. Deep ball, we’ve got to work on that, but I think the short passing game he’ll be okay. And he’s a decent runner, so that’s going to be another dimension. Matt ran last year, but it was more just scrambling. We didn’t have a lot of direct calls. Jordan’s going to be a little different. We’ve added a couple more option plays, zone-read type plays. Hopefully that will be a good part of his game.”
Being able to turn and hand the ball off to Shaffer should help ease any growing pains. The 6-1, 190-pound senior exploded into the spotlight midway through last season with two long touchdown runs against Smethport, finishing the year with 51 carries for 573 yards (for a gaudy 11.24-yard average) and 11 touchdowns while splitting time with Trent Neal in the Gators’ “Thunder and Lightning” backfield. As the electrifying half of that tandem, Shaffer showed he could score from anywhere on the field, outrunning the entire Brockway defense on an 89-yard sprint to the end zone in the Allegheny Mountain League championship game and taking a 66-yard interception to the house in the Gators’ playoff opener against Elk County Catholic.
“He’s going to have to get in shape early,” Bodamer said, “because he’s definitely going to be the workhorse of the team.”
Senior Cory Burr – who was on track to play a significant role last year before a concussion ended his season after just four games – and juniors Chad Gaines, Chris Lashway and Rick Veilleux are the top options to line up at receiver. Sophomore Mac Tanner will split time between running back and H-back.
“Our four receivers, we’re awful small, but all the kids are good athletes,” Bodamer said. “Mac’s an extremely good runner once he gets it. Chad’s a lot like Tyce, he’s got that deceptive speed. And Cory, we call him ‘Crazy Legs’ because once he catches the ball, he just runs all over the place. If we can get the ball to them, we should be okay.”
Raymo will switch from right to left tackle with junior Christian Moses moving into his old spot, while senior Bryce Stahlman takes over at center. Ethan Budd is penciled in as one starting guard, with fellow sophomores Nate Lowery and Bryan Stahlman, junior Chevy Smith and senior Tyler Bee among the options for the other spot.
“Lack of depth is a problem, but our first five, six kids, they’re pretty good,” Bodamer said. “If those kids stay healthy, we should be all right.”
More concerning, he admitted, was the rebuilding project on defense.
“We don’t have a lot of kids back on the defensive side of the ball – all of our secondary, all of our linebackers are brand-new,” he said. “So we’re definitely going to have to score some points. Unlike last year, when I think we had them at zero most of the time at halftime, I don’t think that’s going to be the case this year. Teams are going to score on us. We just have to keep things under control and just manage our offense the best we can.”
Bodamer is relying on Raymo (defensive tackle) and Moses (middle linebacker) to anchor the unit, while trying to take advantage of Shaffer’s and Tanner’s speed at the other linebacker slots. Budd, Smith, both Stahlmans and sophomores Cullen McDowell and Hunter Strawderman will compete at end, while senior Jake Safford is slated to start next to Raymo at tackle. The four new starters in the secondary will come from the group of Burr, Lashway, Gaines, Seefeldt, sophomore Tre Garzel and senior Joel Schroll. Burr, Raymo, and Shaffer have been selected as team captains.
“We’ll have a 4-4 or 4-3 look depending on what team we’re playing,” Bodamer said. “We’re going to be bringing a lot of people. We don’t have a lot of size to stuff people, so we’re going to have to stunt quite a bit, use what speed we do have and try to get after the quarterback and control the run game.”
Longtime assistants Justin Bienkowski (offensive/defensive lines) and Nate Zitnik (receivers/defensive backs) return for another season along with junior high coaches Bob Rankin and Dan Eskesen, while Willie Bova, Scott Lowery, Chad Saltsman and Josh Saltsman will serve as volunteer coaches.
With more and more AML teams trying to copy the success of the spread-style offense that first Brockway and then Port employed to dominate the league, will any of them be good enough to dethrone the Gators for the league crown? We’ll see.
“Actually, seeing some of the tapes, I think it’s going to be competitive all the way around,” Bodamer said. “Brockway’s probably the favorite, just because they have most of their skill guys back. But I’ve heard their line isn’t what it was, they’re not as big, so that could hurt them. North-wise, I’m thinking Eldred probably has the most talent, the most experience coming back. But I think the North’s wide open. Anybody could win it. In the South, I still think Brockway’s probably – probably – the team to beat.
“A lot of us depends on injuries,” he said. “We definitely have a shot. As long as we can do well enough to make the playoffs, that’s our goal. We just want to be one of those eight teams. It’s going to be tough this year … but if we stay healthy, we’ll be okay.”
Aug. 30 Athens H 7:00
Sept. 6 Kane A 7:00
Sept. 14 Ridgway H 1:30
Sept. 20 Coudersport H 7:00
Sept. 27 Otto-Eldred A 7:00
Oct. 4 Smethport A 7:00
Oct. 12 Sheffield H 1:30
Oct. 18 Cameron Co. H 7:00
Oct. 25 Brockway A 7:30

PAHS Fall Sports: Week 1 notes

Last Friday’s dress rehearsal at Gator Field went off without a hitch, as a decent amount of observers checked out the new-and-vastly-improved bleachers while Port High scrimmaged Elk County Catholic under the lights.

“There’s a lot of curiosity and interest in things,” athletic director Dan Stavisky said.

The old wood-and-steel stands, part of the landscape for more than 40 years, had become a legitimate safety concern as the school’s maintenance department tried to keep up with replacing splintered and worn-out boards. There are no such worries with the aluminum model: With handrails on slip-resistant steps, a ramp for handicapped access, fencing around a camera deck which runs the full length of the much-larger pressbox – a far cry from when radio and television crews used to climb onto the slanted roof of the original to broadcast games, and the only access to the second-floor coaches’ boxes was via a ladder leading up through a hole in the floor – and no open spaces to the ground below, the structure should serve the school’s needs for many years to come.

On the night of the scrimmage, a sprinkler soaked a large patch of fresh green sod in the corner of the end zone near the concession stand, where Mike Kallenborn of Pine Valley Landscaping was called in to deal with a drainage problem that had bubbled up to the surface. But with that and a few other late odds and ends taken care of, Stavisky feels that everything should be in order for Port Allegany’s official introduction to “Friday Night Lights.” The Gators kick off at 7 p.m. against the Athens Wildcats, a Class AA team from District 4 which replaced Johnsonburg on the schedule.

“Definitely a different environment,” said Mike Bodamer, the coach of the two-time defending Allegheny Mountain League and District 9 champions. “Hopefully we’ll get some more people to the games. Even when we’ve had good years, Saturday afternoon is still awful tough to get people to come to games – there are a lot of things to do on the weekends. High school football is without a doubt Friday night; it’s good to bring it here finally. We’ll see how it goes. It will definitely save the end of August, early September heat games where we’re all dying of heat exhaustion. That will definitely be nice.”

“It’s good for our kids to have good support at the games. The more fans, the more excited the kids are to play,” Stavisky agreed. “It will be exciting. There will be some adjustments, but we’re ready to go.”


Both Gator soccer teams will also be in action this weekend, with the girls heading to the Bradford Tournament on Friday afternoon and the boys opening with a non-league home game against Coudersport at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

The boys’ game is one of three additions to the schedule, along with a third game against Smethport on Oct. 10 and a trip to Wellsville (N.Y.) on Oct. 15, to give them the regular-season maximum of 18 games.

“I like having a full schedule. My opinion is, you don’t get better by sitting at home,” head coach Aaron Clark said. “I told Dan to give us a game against anyone in the state, or even in New York state, and we’d go and play them. I didn’t care if it was the state champs.”


Like the football team, both the boys soccer and volleyball squads are coming off back-to-back league championships. The Lady Gators travel to Portville next Tuesday for their season opener, before beginning their North Tier League title defense at Smethport on Thursday. Tuesday also marks the beginning of the cross country schedule, when the Gators and new coach Jeanette Burleson travel to Coudersport.


The Port golf teams were the first fall sport to swing into action, with the girls dropping a 39-16 match at Bradford last Tuesday. Debbie Andrus led the Gators with a 61, Hannah Buchsenschutz shot a 71, Kaylee Ernst 76, and Alysa Dickinson 78.

Raabe notebook: “Interesting day” for Bienkowski

Saturday was doubly special for assistant coach Justin Bienkowski, whose wife Ashley delivered the couple’s second child earlier in the afternoon.

“Interesting day,” he said with a chuckle. “I woke up at 6:30 to my wife pushing me, saying, ‘Get up, get up, we need to go to the hospital.’ So her parents came over, my parents came over, we got over there, and I sat next to a hospital bed until about 5:30 when my wife pushed her out.

“They cleaned her up, and my wife said, ‘Get your (butt) to the game.’ Interesting day, but I’m glad I got the chance to have my daughter Alivia born, and get a chance to culminate the experience I’ve had with these guys for the last two and a half weeks.”

Bienkowski arrived on the sideline during the first half, the crowd cheering the announcement over the PA system, then teared up afterward when head coach Mike Bodamer awarded him a game ball.

Alivia joins older sister Sophia, who arrived on the day of the Port-Coudersport game three years ago.

“She’s got football in her blood before she even knows it,” Bienkowski said. “It was a heck of a good day, and it was great to culminate it with these guys because it’s a great group of kids. A lot of talent and no egos. Reading Mike’s and Jason’s quotes from previous days, I’d have to echo what they said – the kids worked hard. And it’s always good to work with Jason and Nate and Mike.

“All in all, I can’t say a negative word about tonight.”


Likewise, the Port players involved in the game were pleased with the experience.

For offensive tackle Victor Bandish, it was “one last game with my teammates, and our coaches being there for the last game.”

“It’s fun to bring together the best of the best. Those were our enemies; now I’m really good friends with most of them. It was very fun to play with them,” receiver Nick Conway said. “The Warren guys, that’s probably my favorite memory. My twin brother (Mark Davis), we had a great two weeks together. I imagine we’ll keep in touch after this.”

Added Nick Budd, “Like he said, bringing everybody together and getting the best of the best from each team really makes it fun. I don’t know if I have a best memory, but it was nice to hit again, get out on the field one last time. You never know if you’ll ever play football again or not. The whole thing was great.”

“One last time,” Conway agreed. “I was calling it an encore. It’s nice.”


With so many talented players executing Luther’s fast-break offense, a number of records were sure to fall:

Most attempts (team) – PA, 48
Most completions (team) – PA, 31
Most passing yards (both teams) – 650
Most passing yards (team) – PA, 426
Most TD passes (game) – 6
Most TD passes (team) – 4 (ties NY 1986)
Most TD passes (player) – Bodamer 3 (ties John Ditcher, NY 1986, and Tom Nasto, PA 2001)
Most total yards (team) – PA, 624
Most plays (team) – PA, 86


Game chairman Paul Pfaff estimated attendance at more than 5,000, and said he was hoping to hit the $40,000 mark for the game’s Giveaway Day in October. In the previous 39 years, the Raabe Classic has raised close to $1.7 million for area charities and individuals in need.


If there was one negative from Saturday night, it was the amount of yellow handkerchiefs littering the field. For the second year in a row, a parade of penalties – including several personal fouls and an ejection – forced the game well past the three-hour mark despite the running clock for the entire fourth quarter, frustrating Pfaff.

“I am disappointed about the conduct, and I don’t know what we’re going to do. It’s an all-star game, not a war. They should be having fun,” he said of the chippy play in recent years.

“I’m going to call some guys, get some people from New York, get together and have a meeting and discuss the whole situation, what can be done. We’re not going to tolerate this.”

Pennsylvania routs New York in 40th Raabe Classic

FAMILIAR TERRITORY: Port Allegany's Tyce Miller scores the first of his two TDs in last Saturday's Raabe Classic, into the same Parkway Field endzone where he caught the game-winner in Port's state playoff game last November. (Photo: Pam Fischer)

FAMILIAR TERRITORY: Port Allegany’s Tyce Miller with the first of two touchdown catches in last Saturday’s Don Raabe Charities Classic, scoring into the same Parkway Field endzone where he caught the game-winner in Port’s state playoff game last November. (Photo: Pam Fischer)

Lori Chase
August 8, 2013

For a while on Saturday night, it looked like the fortieth edition of the Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic was going to be a lot closer than most observers predicted … but by the end of the third quarter, the outcome was no longer in doubt.

Marching deep into New York territory almost every time they touched the ball, the high-octane Pennsylvania offense piled up yards and points at a recordbreaking pace, rolling to a 53-12 victory at Bradford’s Parkway Field to narrow New York’s lead in the series to 20-18-2.

Port Allegany quarterback Matt Bodamer tossed three of the four Pennsy touchdown passes in the game – two of those to teammate Tyce Miller, who finished with a game-high 134 receiving yards – and Eisenhower’s John Pascuzzi rushed for 111 yards and two scores to lead a Keystone attack that never punted until its final possession. Coudersport’s Caden Whitman and the Warren tandem of quarterback Austin Jerman and Mark Davis also found the end zone for Pennsylvania.

“I was a little skeptical at first, because they’re big up front defensively and they’ve got a great staff, so I knew they’d throw some sort of scheme at us that we hadn’t prepared for throughout the week. But our line did a bang-up job,” said offensive coordinator Jason Luther. “A couple of mental mistakes inside the 10 hurt us at first, but the kids bounced back. The way our offense works, as long as we can get stops on defense, we’re going to wear on you like a fungus.”

Two long touchdown catches by Pat Scholla, the second a spectacular leaping fingertip grab that the Olean receiver converted into a 71-yard score, and a pair of goal-line stands kept the Empire State within striking distance well into the second quarter. But when New York took over at its own 1 after the second Pennsy turnover on downs, the defense was ready for them. After a penalty moved the ball out to the 15, Coudersport’s Mitch Freeman sacked quarterback Tanner John to put them right back where they started, and heavy pressure on the following play forced an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone for a safety. Taking over at the New York 41 with 1:48 left in the half, Bodamer was right at home on the familiar Parkway Field turf, with two long completions to Bradford’s Matt Yurkewicz to set up a short touchdown pass to Eisenhower tight end Nate O’Brien. Bodamer called his own number for the two-point conversion, and Pennsylvania took a 28-12 lead into the locker room.

For head coach Mike Bodamer, the sequence marked the game’s turning point.

“That safety really lit things underneath us right before halftime,” he said.

Added Luther, “They might have had some goal-line stops, but at the same time they had to have been thinking. I think we had them on their heels a little bit. Granted, we didn’t score, but we never lost momentum. There was never that swing. Normally when you get a couple of stops inside the 5 defensively, there’s that swing, but it never happened. That’s a lot of credit to Mr. Bienkowski and his defense. We were outsized, but our defense is super-athletic. They never let it happen.”

As the score mounted, the size disparity that had concerned coach Bodamer – “I honestly don’t know if we can stop them,” he said of New York’s power rushing game behind its trio of massive offensive tackles – never became a factor. The front seven stood its ground, allowing just 2 yards per rushing attempt for the game and only one foray inside its own 20-yard line after the first quarter.

“I thought the defense played really well other than a couple times where we had a broken coverage, and you’re going to have that with not having more than two weeks of practice,” defensive tackle Nick Budd said. “You’re not going to play exactly perfect, but I thought the defense played extremely well. Everybody flowed well together. You’d get a big hit, get up and smack each other on the butt. It was fun.”

Likewise, the unheralded offensive line quietly did its job, never giving up a sack despite a game-record 48 passing attempts by the two Pennsy quarterbacks.

“Those guys were obviously taking a back seat to the skill guys with all the records and the newspaper clippings, the things like that,” said Justin Bienkowski, who worked with the linemen in addition to assisting Bodamer with the defense while Luther and Nate Zitnik handled the offense. “But they got better every day, and they were willing to work. Complete 100 percent credit to those guys up front, because they gave Matt and Austin an opportunity to do really well tonight.

“Usually when you have all-stars, they’re like, ‘I don’t need to work.’ But every night we came to practice, whatever town we were in, they worked hard.”

If there was still any doubt about the outcome, two Pennsylvania touchdowns in a 12-second span put them to rest midway through the third quarter.

A successful fake punt kept New York’s opening drive of the second half alive, but Kane’s Sean Rolick ended the threat with a fourth-down interception, and Jerman capped off a backbreaking 92-yard march with a short touchdown run to give Pennsylvania a 35-12 lead. New York fumbled the ensuing kickoff, with Smethport’s Karl Lightner coming out of the pile with the ball, and Matt Bodamer found a wide-open Miller for the 29-yard score on the next play.

“That big turnover on the kick when we got the fumble, and Matt came in and threw a touchdown on the first play, it was pretty much over at that point,” Mike Bodamer said. “It was supposed to just be an out to Tyce, but there wasn’t anybody there. So Tyce just broke it off long, and Matt’s like, ‘Okay, we’ll throw it to him.’”

Another defensive stop led to Pascuzzi’s second short touchdown run, making it 47-12 with 0:47 left in the third quarter and invoking the PIAA “mercy rule” for the first time in the game’s history. With the clock running, the Bodamer-to-Miller tandem hooked up for one final touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to complete the scoring.

“Since I was absolutely tiny, on the sideline with my dad managing when he had the Big 30 Game, it’s always been in my dreams to play with him. It’s always been something I’ve strived to do,” Matt Bodamer said. “Coming out with the win and doing what we were supposed to do – those kids are so great – it was just everything that I wished for.”

It was a night to remember for the elder Bodamer, as well, and a fitting sendoff for an outstanding senior class.

“Not only Matt, but the other seven (Port) kids – it was fun having them all together again for one last time,” he said. “It’s a good way to go out with them.”

40th Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic

At Bradford, Aug. 3:

Score by quarters:
New York 12 0 0 0 12
Pennsylvania 18 10 19 6 53

First Quarter
NY – (10:59) Pat Scholla 29 pass from Ryan Miller (7 plays, 64 yards, 2:17); kick failed, 6-0
PA – (8:46) Mark Davis 11 pass from Austin Jerman (6 plays, 72 yards, 2:13); kick blocked, 6-6
PA – (6:35) Caden Whitman 1 run (6 plays, 28 yards, 1:12); pass failed, 6-12
PA – (1:53) John Pascuzzi 4 run (10 plays, 63 yards, 2:34); run failed, 6-18
NY – (0:22) Pat Scholla 71 pass from Tanner John (3 plays, 70 yards, 1:31); run failed, 12-18

Second Quarter
PA – (1:53) Safety, John intentional grounding in end zone; 12-20
PA – (0:54) Nathan O’Brien 2 pass from Matt Bodamer (4 plays, 41 yards, 0:59): Bodamer run, 12-28

Third Quarter
PA – (6:20) Jerman 1 run (9 plays, 92 yards, 2:43); T.J. Hardy kick, 12-35
PA – (6:08) Tyce Miller 29 pass from Bodamer (1 play, 29 yards after Karl Lightner fumble recovery, 0:06); kick failed, 12-41
PA – (0:47) Pascuzzi 1 run (13 plays, 79 yards, 3:53); kick blocked, 12-47

Fourth Quarter
PA – (7:07) Miller 31 pass from Bodamer (7 plays, 59 yards, 2:46); kick failed, 12-53

Team Statistics: NY PA
First downs 15 29
Rushes-Yards 36-72 38-198
Passing Yards 224 426
Comp-Att-Int 16-32-1 31-48-0
Total Yards 296 624
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 0-0
Punts-Avg. 4-29.5 1-28.0
Penalties-Yards 11-86 11-129
Total Plays 68 86
Time of Possession 32:18 27:42

Individual statistics:
New York
– Zach Wood 6-28, Tanner John 4-18, Ryan Miller 6-14, Jordan Dowiasz 9-6, Matt Booth 7-6, Kyle Hoffman 4-0.
Pennsylvania – John Pascuzzi 19-111, Austin Jerman 9-37, Caden Whitman 7-35, Matt Bodamer 3-10, Rickie Bova 0-3 (fumble recovery).

New York
– Miller 9-13-0-96, 1 TD; John 7-18-1-128, 1 TD; Pat Scholla 0-1-0-0.
Pennsylvania – Bodamer 16-23-0-227, 3 TD; Jerman 15-25-0-199, 1 TD.

New York
– Scholla 3-121, Wood 3-32, Kyle Stover 3-26, Ryan Schutte 3-21, John 2-13, Booth 1-7, Dowiasz 1-4.
Pennsylvania – Tyce Miller 7-134, Mitch Holmberg 7-92, Zac McKnight 3-74, Matt Yurkewicz 2-48, Nick Conway 5-36, Mark Davis 4-36, Pascuzzi 1-5, Nathan O’Brien 1-2, Bova 1-(-1).

Raabe Classic: Victor Bandish

May 16, 2013

Port Allegany lineman Victor Bandish was a force on both sides of the ball for the Gators last fall, finishing second on the team in tackles on defense and helping the offense shatter multiple district and state records during Port’s run to the PIAA Class A semifinals.

An Allegheny Mountain League All-Star who also garnered honorable mention on the Pennsylvania Football News Class A All-State Team, Bandish is the fifth Gator to accept an invitation to play in the 40th annual Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic on Aug. 3 in Bradford.

Following up on a junior season which saw him lead the team with five sacks and three fumble recoveries, the 5-foot-11, 210-pound defensive end was at his best in the playoffs as a senior, recording a team-high 11 tackles (including two for loss) and forcing a fumble against Clarion in the District 9 championship game, then notching 12 more stops against Sharpsville.

“We made a great statement, showing them that we actually can play defense and that we’re underrated. We showed them that we play pass pretty well, we play run pretty well,” he said after the Clarion game.

Per the Raabe Classic press release, Bandish’s greatest football thrill was “that family feeling he got playing ball with the great people that made up the 2012 Gators team. Playing in the Raabe Big 30 is a chance to keep that fire burning a little bit longer and a little bit brighter.”

Victor, a Philadelphia Eagles fan, plans to enroll at Pitt-Bradford as a pre-med major.

Raabe Classic: Matt Bodamer

Big 30 Matt

July 18, 2013

Fittingly, the last play of Matt Bodamer’s stellar high school football career was a touchdown pass.

The Port Allegany quarterback tossed plenty of those in his four years as the starter, obliterating the Pennsylvania state records for passing yardage (10,948) and touchdowns (137) as the Gators went 25-3 and claimed back-to-back Allegheny Mountain League and District 9 championships in his junior and senior years.

The postseason accolades rolled in for the 6-0, 185-pound signalcaller: Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year, Pennsylvania Football News “Mister Football,” MaxPreps Small-School All-American, multiple All-State selections, even an appearance in “Faces in the Crowd” in Sports Illustrated.

Locally, Bodamer became just the second player to win back-to-back Big 30 Player of the Year honors in the more than 50 years the Olean Times Herald has handed out its awards, also earning an automatic invitation to play in the Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic on Aug. 3 at Parkway Field in Bradford. The Raabe press release states, “From the time he was a young boy working as a team manager for the Gators he has dreamed of playing in the Big 30 Game.”

Of course, it won’t be the first time he, the seven other Gator players on the Pennsy roster, and Port coaches Mike Bodamer, Justin Bienkowski, Jason Luther, and Nate Zitnik will make the trip to Bradford High’s home turf. On their last visit to Parkway Field last November, Bodamer tossed a touchdown pass with 17.7 seconds left on the clock to beat Sharpsville in Port’s state playoff opener, a play he and several teammates understandably chose as their greatest football thrill.

A four-year starter in baseball and basketball as well as football, Bodamer – also an honor roll student and Davies-Foy Award finalist – plans to major in engineering management at Edinboro University and continue his gridiron career with the Fighting Scots. A Cleveland Browns fan who lists Peyton Manning as his favorite player, he enjoys playing golf in his leisure hours.

Practices for the Raabe Classic begin on July 18 in Johnsonburg and run through Aug. 2 in Port Allegany, with most weeknight sessions scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Gameday festivities include a parade through downtown Bradford to the field stepping off at 2:30 p.m., followed by a tailgate party at Callahan Park.

Raabe Classic: Rick Bova

A trio of Knights try to drag down Gator tight end Rickie Bova. (Pam Fischer / Reporter Argus)

A trio of Union Knights try to drag down Gator tight end Rickie Bova in a 2011 playoff game. (Photo: Pam Fischer)

June 6, 2013

Rickie Bova was a critical part of the prolific Port Allegany passing offense in 2011 and 2012, a big, dependable target over the middle of the field for quarterback Matt Bodamer.

Just ask any of the defensive backs who tried – and usually failed – to tackle the 6-0, 220-pound tight end one-on-one.

Bova finished his Gator career with 75 catches for 1,108 yards (14.8 average) and 10 touchdowns, most of those coming with at least one defender either going along for an unexpected ride or left on the ground in his wake. Port coach Mike Bodamer recalled one instance following Bova’s seven-catch, 100-yard night against Coudersport:

“That one time, he caught a ball over the middle and their safety hit him, I think that safety was looking for a big hit. He hit Rick and just stopped right there, and Rick just kind of looked at him,” he said with a chuckle. “Rick’s come alive. He’s a big strong kid to bring down and he’s got great hands.”

Twice named honorable mention for the Pennsylvania Football News Class A All-State team, Bova is one of eight Gators invited to play in the 40th annual Don Raabe Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic. The game is a family tradition for the Bovas, with older brothers Jarvis (1997) and Willie (2006) and sister Cora (2011) all participating in Pennsy wins. (Uncle Barry, the 1978 Olean Times Herald Big 30 Player of the Year, was unable to play in the 1979 game.)

“It will also be a chance to play with and against the best athletes in the area for a worthy cause,” Bova wrote on his Raabe Classic information sheet.

Per the Raabe release, “Rickie says his biggest thrill came beating Sharpsville in the final seconds of their playoff game and advancing to the state semi-final against the eventual state champion. Fishing and weight training are his hobbies and he is a fan of the Buffalo Bills and Russell Wilson.”

An honor roll student who also started for the Gators’ basketball and baseball teams, earning Northern Allegheny League All-Star mention in the latter this spring after leading the team with a .517 batting average and 30 RBIs, Bova plans to attend St. Bonaventure University and play rugby for the Bonnies.

Raabe Classic: Nick Budd


May 9, 2013

Nick Budd became a member of two exclusive clubs last fall. With his selection to the Big 30 All-Star and Pennsylvania Football News All-State teams, the Port Allegany senior made both squads for the second time – once each on offense and defense.

A four-year starter on the offensive line, the 6-3, 250-pound Budd was also a force at defensive tackle, contributing 56 tackles and a team-best seven sacks as the Gators (13-1) claimed their second straight District 9 championship and advanced to the Class A state semifinals.

The 2012 recipient of the Big 30 “Unsung Lineman of the Year” Award, Budd has accepted an invitation to play in the 40th annual Don Raabe Charities Classic. According to the press release, Budd “has long considered the invitation to play in the Raabe Big 30 Game a great honor and something he has looked forward to since he was a small child.” He lists the comeback win against Sharpsville as his greatest football thrill, and the Pittsburgh Steelers and James Harrison as his favorite team and player.

A two-sport standout also named to the Olean Times Herald’s “Fab 15” wrestling all-stars for the third time after winning the D-9 285-pound title and placing second at states, Budd has decided to continue his mat career at Gannon, where he plans to study mechanical engineering. He enjoys hunting and boating in his spare time.

Nick’s father, Gregg Budd, was selected to play in the 1983 Big 30 Game, a 16-14 Pennsy victory.