Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic: Mac Tanner


Port Allegany RB/LB Mac Tanner (Photo by Pam Fischer)

Lori Chase
March 24, 2016

Two more Port Allegany seniors, Tre’ Garzel and Mac Tanner, have accepted invitations to participate in the 43rd annual Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic football game, bringing the congregation of Gators on the Pennsylvania roster to six.

That number is the second-most for Port in the game’s lengthy history, trailing only the eight (plus the coaching staff) from the record-smashing 2012 state semifinal squad who helped lead Pennsy to a 53-12 win in 2013.

Four other editions of the game have featured a five-Gator contingent, with the Keystone State going 3-1 in those contests against its counterpart from north of the state line. Overall, New York holds a 22-18-2 lead, winning the last two after a 7-for-10 Pennsylvania run had closed a sizable gap in the series.

This year’s Big 30 Charities Classic is slated for Saturday, Aug. 6, at Parkway Field in Bradford.

Like Garzel, Tanner got his first varsity experience as a freshman reserve for the 2012 District 9 champions. He stepped into a major role the following year, leading the team in tackles, but was forced to miss his entire junior season due to injury.

The 5-7, 160-pound running back/cornerback returned with a vengeance for his senior campaign, rushing for a team-best 654 yards, including a career-high 152-yard game at Curwensville, and scoring eight touchdowns. On defense, he once again topped the Gators in stops, a performance which earned him a spot on the Olean Times Herald Big 30 All-Star team and consideration as a finalist for their Defensive Player of the Year award.

“Mac has been what I would call a ‘caged dog’ for us throughout his career. When we’d let him loose to play he would go insanely crazy on the field with no regard for his own health and safety. That is a quality our coaching staff is going to miss considerably,” Gator head coach Justin Bienkowski said. “He has struggled through a ton of injuries but as long as he was cleared to play we could count on him. Mac exemplifies how football helps a young boy become a man. He has grown up and matured in front of our eyes on and off the field. His toughness and grit running the ball for us was a huge part of any success we had offensively.

“Defensively, Mac was extremely reliable to be around the ball play in and play out. He didn’t hesitate to stick his nose in against anyone. As a head coach I’m going to miss the struggle of trying to keep him tamed when he just wanted to go physically destroy his opponent.”

Also an exceptional wrestler, the two-time Allegheny Mountain League all-star realized a longtime dream this winter, qualifying for the state tournament with a third-place finish in his second trip to regionals. He ended his Gator mat career with an 89-21 career record, tied for 16th on the PAHS wins list.

Tanner plans to study safety management at Clarion University. The Big 30 press release states, “Mac is aware of the history of the Big 30 Charities Classic and is looking forward to playing with players from other schools. In addition, he wants to be a role model for younger athletes. His most memorable moments playing football were being knee deep in mud and snow in the playoffs, and heading the pre-game chant. His hobbies include dirt bike riding, snowmobiling, working and hanging out with Papa Coldren. Mac’s favorite football team is the Penn State Nittany Lions and his favorite player is LaMichael James.”

For more information on the Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic, visit

Tanner Sheffield

Tanner breaks a tackle against Sheffield. (Photo by Pam Fischer)

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