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.