Pennsy wins 44th Big 30 Charities Classic

Lori Chase
August 10, 2017

Saturday’s Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic was billed as a matchup between two old-school, run-heavy offenses. Instead of a low-scoring slugfest, though, observers at Interstate Parkway Field were treated to the third-highest offensive output in the series’ 44-year history.

With the Pennsylvania defense making a slew of big plays and the offense scoring on six of seven possessions once they started rolling, the Keystone State squad erased an early two-touchdown deficit to roll to a 48-30 victory over New York on a gorgeous, if cool, summer evening in Bradford.

“I just told the kids, do what you do best and make plays,” fifth-year Elk County Catholic head coach Tony Gerg said. “The coaches weren’t gonna win this game, it was the kids. Let them go out and let ’em do what they know how to do, and they did.”

The 78 total points trailed only the 2003 (56-40) and 2010 (46-37) contests, a pair of New York shootout wins, and Pennsy’s 48-point outburst finished just behind their 2013 (53-12) and 2005 (49-22) counterparts for bragging rights as they narrowed the Empire State’s lead in the series to 22-20-2.

Quarterbacks Nate DaCanal (ECC) and Kyle Kirk (Bradford) combined for 264 yards and a trio of touchdown passes, with their point production matched by the power-running tandem of Seth Drummond (Otto-Eldred) and Matt Marconi (St. Marys).

Most of those Pennsy touchdown drives were set up by turnovers – including a pair of takeaways by Coudersport grad Aaron Wolfinger and a fourth-down stop by his Falcon teammate Brock Wilson – and a late pick-six by Ridgway’s Jacob Anderson capped off the scoring, beginning the celebration in earnest on the home team’s sideline.

“We just needed to settle in and get a good stop, get a chance for our offense to make a big move, and that’s what we did,” Wolfinger said. “All game long we were having a little trouble with the defense, but we found it and we came out on top.”

Gerg, who noted the athleticism of the Coudy duo during a post-practice interview last week, tabbed Wolfinger’s third-quarter interception as the key play on a night chock-full of momentum swings. With Pennsylvania clinging to its first lead of the game, the Falcon linebacker stepped in front of a pass attempt at his own 32-yard line to halt New York’s potential go-ahead drive, and DaCanal found Bradford receiver Dawson Ambrose for a 38-yard catch-and-run score shortly thereafter to open up a 34-22 margin.

“He’s an outstanding player,” Gerg said of the two-time Olean Times Herald Big 30 All-Star. “To come up and pick that off to stop the drive, because if they score on that drive … It’s a different game, maybe, because our strategy has to change from that point. So I really think that play meant a lot.”

Pregame preparation was the key for Wolfinger, who also made sure to credit the offense for cashing in on the opportunity he gave them.

“We had been doing a lot of flats coverage in practice, a lot of routes like that, and I just made a move on it,” he said. “It was definitely one of them (a momentum-changer), but we’ve got to give props to the offense to make a move on that. If they don’t do anything on that play, it really doesn’t mean much.”

If his pick wasn’t the defensive play of the game, a strong argument could be made for his earlier takeaway. Already down 14-0 and facing fourth-and-long early in the second quarter, Pennsylvania punted the ball away, but Wolfinger’s well-timed downfield coverage forced a muff that he recovered at the New York 26. On the next play, Kirk found tight end Parker Smith (St. Marys) open at the goal line to put Pennsy on the board.

“I had to check a couple times and make sure he wasn’t fair-catching it. I didn’t want to get any penalty like that. As soon as I saw that he didn’t, I took the opportunity,” Wolfinger said.

New York’s next possession came to an abrupt end at the Pennsylvania 42, with Wilson flashing into the backfield on fourth-and-an-inch to drag down Gowanda back Jason Gauthier for no gain.

“He had a great game, he really did,” Wolfinger said of his Falcon running mate. “Coming off-tackle and making those really good stops, he was a vital part of that defense.”

Added Gerg, “He’s going on to play at Alfred U, and I’m telling you what, they’re getting a gem up there. That kid is one of the smartest football players, football smarts, that I’ve ever met. He gets it. He’s going to be an outstanding college player.”

Pennsylvania took advantage of the turnover on downs to pull into a 14-14 tie on Marconi’s nine-yard touchdown run, but New York answered with a highlight-reel play. Randolph quarterback Jake Beaver completed a 10-yard out to Cordell O’Brien, who deftly flipped the ball to his Frewsburg teammate Caleb Caldwell for a 60-yard sprint past a stunned Pennsylvania sideline to finish off the successful hook-and-lateral.

After forcing another punt, the blue-clad New Yorkers were in position to reclaim control, but the first of two interceptions by Ridgway cornerback Josh Raubenstrauch gave Pennsylvania the ball back at midfield with just 1:08 remaining in the half.

That proved to be just enough time. Kane’s Davis Gardner made a leaping 41-yard grab to put Pennsy in the red zone, and DaCanal followed with a five-yard slant to Ambrose for the score with 8.1 seconds left on the clock to make it 22-20 at the break.

The second half belonged to the Keystone defense and running game, with the other two Potter County players in the game, Coudy guard Corey Thompson and O-E tight end (and Oswayo Valley grad) Grant West helping open holes for the Pennsy backs. Taking direct snaps out of the single-wing set, Drummond pounded out 84 of his game-best 98 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns in the final 30 minutes, including 10 carries and a catch on a backbreaking 15-play, 71-yard drive which chewed up almost half of the fourth quarter after New York had scored on a 46-yard catch-and-run by O’Brien to cut the margin to 34-30.

“It’s kind of nice, isn’t it?” Gerg said, smiling. “You’ve got two big bowling balls in there with Marconi and Drummond. That’s what we’re designed for, even back at Elk County, that kid that can take the ball and just drive down the field and have the faith that they can handle the ball, not turn it over. They took over the game. Once you can manage that clock at the end with that lead, you’ve won it. They were outstanding.”

On the other side of the ball, the Pennsy defense settled in after its early-game jitters, forcing a total of five turnovers in the final three quarters while allowing just the two big-play scores.

“The first quarter was a little iffy, because we didn’t know what they were going to be running, they didn’t know what we were going to be running. We were a little rough in some patches,” Port Allegany tackle TyDel Green said. “Once we straightened it around, though, we just pretty much overcame it. “

Afterward, players and coaches mingled with their families and posed for pictures on the Parkway Field turf, promising each other to keep in touch with their newfound friends.

“When it came down to it, everybody executed when they needed to. Really fun game,” Green said. “Everybody did what they were asked in practice, and it showed on the field. Great group of guys, some memories that all of us can take forever. Just a great experience.”

Wilson added, “It’s once in a lifetime, it really is. The whole process, going through it, is fantastic. It’s a lot of fun, and to show out like we did is even better. Icing on the cake.”

NOTES:
-The Pennsylvania defense tied a pair of game records, matching New York’s four-interception night in 1978 while Raubenstrauch joined six other players, including Port Allegany’s Kerry Hawver (2001), with a pair of pickoffs. Raubenstrauch also broke up two passes, as did Bradford’s Mitch Vleminckx.
– Beaver put his name in the record book for his three touchdown passes (including the hook-and-lateral), a feat previously accomplished by Gator quarterbacks Tom Nasto in 2001 and Matt Bodamer in 2013 as well as New York’s John Ditcher in 1986.
-Kane kicker Joe Johnson missed an early field-goal attempt but finished with six successful extra-point attempts, one short of the mark set by Bradford’s Kyle MacFarlane in 2005.
-Smethport defensive end Akete Kindle notched a pair of sacks, while Gowanda passrushers Ethan Francis and Marcus Jones each recorded a takedown for New York. Each team also made seven tackles for loss, including one by Green and two by Ridgway’s Justin Kasmierski.

44th BIG 30 CHARITIES CLASSIC
At Bradford, Aug. 5:

SCORE BY QUARTERS:
New York 14 8 8 0 30
Pennsylvania 0 20 14 14 48

Scoring Summary
First Quarter

New York – Cordell O’Brien 10 pass from Jake Beaver (6 plays, 58 yards); kick blocked, 6-0
New York – Devin Carr 2 run (12 plays, 60 yards after Chris Johnson fumble recovery); Jason Gauthier run, 14-0
Second Quarter
Pennsylvania – Parker Smith 26 pass from Kyle Kirk (1 play, 26 yards after Aaron Wolfinger fumble recovery); Joe Johnson kick, 14-7
Pennsylvania – Matt Marconi 9 run (3 plays, 58 yards after turnover on downs); Johnson kick, 14-14
New York – Caleb Caldwell 60 lateral from O’Brien after 10 pass from Beaver (3 plays, 74 yards); O’Brien pass from Beaver, 22-14
Pennsylvania – Dawson Ambrose 5 pass from Nate DaCanal (7 plays, 50 yards after Josh Raubenstrauch interception); pass failed, 22-20
Third Quarter
Pennsylvania – Seth Drummond 12 run (8 plays, 79 yards); Johnson kick, 22-27
Pennsylvania – Ambrose 38 pass from DaCanal (6 plays, 68 yards after Wolfinger interception); Johnson kick, 22-34
New York – O’Brien 46 pass from Beaver (7 plays, 64 yards); Beaver run, 30-34
Fourth Quarter
Pennsylvania – Drummond 4 run (15 plays, 71 yards); Johnson kick, 30-41
Pennsylvania – Jacob Anderson 30 interception return; Johnson kick, 30-48

TEAM STATISTICS: NY PA
First downs 19 23
Rushes-Yards 49-197 48-182
Passing Yards 188 264
Comp-Att-Int 8-20-4 14-21-0
Total Yards 385 446
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-1
Punts-Avg. 2-32.5 3-31.0
Penalties-Yards 8-61 4-35
Total Plays 69 69

Individual Statistics
Rushing:
NY – Kameron Alexander 9-82; Jason Gauthier 18-72; Devin Carr 13-47; Casey Williams 5-17; Alexander Edstrom 2-(-1); Jake Beaver 2-(-20). PA – Seth Drummond 18-98, 2 TD; Matt Marconi 14-66, TD; Kyle Kirk 5-15; Brendon Mattson 3-14; Jared Braun 3-2; Tristan Reed 1-(-3); Nate DaCanal 4-(-10).
Passing: NY – Beaver 6-12-1, 165 yards, 3 TD; Carr 2-7-2, 23 yards; Gauthier 0-1-1. PA – DaCanal 10-12-0, 143 yards, 2 TD; Kirk 4-9-0, 74 yards, TD.
Receiving: NY – Cordell O’Brien 5-94, 2 TD; Caleb Caldwell 1-71 (60 on lateral), TD; Ryan Schlosser 2-23. PA – Dawson Ambrose 4-92, 2 TD; Davis Gardner 3-68; Parker Smith 2-34, TD; Braun 1-27; Mattson 2-23; Drummond 1-13; Marconi 1-7.

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Big 30 Game kicks off at 7

With kickoff just over four hours away, my advance from Thursday for tonight’s Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic:

Lori Chase
Aug. 3, 2017

The sounds of football pads colliding and coaches’ whistles tweeting filled the air at Gator Field last Friday evening, as the Pennsylvania team in this weekend’s 44th Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic made its annual visit to Port Allegany for a two-hour practice session.

Afterward, Tony Gerg liked what he’d seen from his squad. The Elk County Catholic head coach admitted to some “sleepless nights” after the first couple of workouts, but said, “By Tuesday of this week, I could see a bounce in their step. The last two nights, the offense looked like it was in a rhythm. That’s what we were looking for.”

Acknowledging the challenges in molding players from the 13 different high schools in the southern half of the Big 30 area into a cohesive unit in just nine padded practices, Gerg noted, “These are new kids. First time a lot of them have met each other, ever. They’re being supportive, they’re bringing each other up. They know how to win games, they just have to learn how to do it as a unit.

“I feel a lot better than I did a week and a half ago.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Port Allegany defensive tackle TyDel Green, the lone Gator tabbed for this year’s roster.

“It’s going good. Things are coming together,” he said. “Everybody’s kind of getting closer together. Some of us haven’t played together in a long time, or even ever seen each other, but it’s coming along pretty well. We’re more in rhythm now.”

One additional wrinkle for this year’s Pennsy offense: Gerg and his staff run some of their plays from the single-wing offense, a system most of the other local schools had only seen on decades-old film before facing the Crusaders’ version. Devised more than a century ago by the legendary “Pop” Warner, the predecessor of the “shotgun” formation relies on a combination of deception and blocking mismatches to keep the opposing defense on its heels.

“Weird stuff,” Gerg said, chuckling. “It’s kind of the same approach we run with our kids: If you look at it and you’re open to it, it’s pretty fun. I think it fits well, because it gives you the opportunity to hand the ball off to everybody. It’s an all-star game. We want everybody to be involved in this thing, everybody get their touches. That’s the main game plan.

“And win,” he concluded with a smile.

On the other side of the ball, Green and his teammates are adapting to the mandatory 4-3 defense.

“Definitely a challenge,” he said. “Something new to learn, but most of us have it down.”

And the work, Green said, is well worth it.

“It’s a commitment, for sure, going to every practice in different towns,” he said. “But it’s definitely very nice to be able to say you’ve been asked to play in the game. And it’s for a good cause, all the charity work that goes into it. The Big 30, it’s a big organization. A lot of work, a lot of time not just for the players, but for the organization as well.

“It’s definitely an achievement for everyone who’s been told they can play in the Big 30.”

There’s a banquet for the participants on Thursday night, and a parade and tailgate party on Saturday afternoon, but Green is already focusing on one thing: Kickoff.

“Saturday night, 7 o’clock,” he said.

***

The Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic, a game between teams of graduated seniors from Allegany, Cattaraugus, and eastern Chautauqua counties in New York and Potter, McKean, Warren, Elk, and Cameron in Pennsylvania, has raised more than $1.6 million for various organizations and individuals in need across the Twin Tiers. New York leads the series, 22-19-2, but Pennsy’s 38-20 win last year earned the Keystone State squad the home sideline for this year’s game at Bradford’s Interstate Parkway Field.

In addition to Green, Port Allegany cheerleaders Marianna Seefeldt, Karlye Rifle, Morgan Causer and Homecoming Queen Autumn Buchsenschutz are also taking part in this week’s festivities.

Saturday’s parade will start at 2:30 p.m., with participants asked to line up in the Best Western parking lot at 12:30, and proceed down Main Street to the Pitt-Bradford athletic fields on Campus Drive. There will be a tailgate party in the high school parking lot outside the football field in the pavilion. As this is a high school campus, no alcohol or tobacco products are permitted anywhere on the grounds.

Gates will open at 5 p.m., with pregame activities set to begin at 6:15.

Pennsylvania rolls to 38-20 win in 43rd Big 30 Charities Classic

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Tre’ Garzel rolls right, looking downfield, as Noah Werner holds off a New York rusher in Saturday’s Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic. (Photo: Pam Fischer)

Lori Chase
Aug. 11, 2016

Going into Saturday night’s Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic, Pennsylvania coach Jim Berlin said his players were “ready and anxious” to start the game.

They had good reason to be confident about their level of preparation.

With Port Allegany quarterback Tre’ Garzel playing a major role, the Keystone State squad erased an early New York lead by scoring on three straight possessions, then pounded out two more long touchdown drives in the second half to secure a 38-20 victory in an entertaining and well-played 43rd edition of the annual all-star game at Interstate Parkway Field in Bradford.

“You really can’t script it any better than that,” an ecstatic Berlin said after watching his team stop a two-game New York winning streak to close the Empire State’s lead in the series to 22-19-2. “All week long they said, ‘Coach, when the lights come on we’re ready to roll,’ and they showed up. They played a hell of a good ballgame tonight.”

The trio of Shane Rolick (107 yards), Tyler Rolick (92) and Alex Colosimo (89) keyed a Pennsylvania ground game which stacked up 343 yards and five touchdowns, while Garzel, who was originally named to the roster as a defensive back, repaid Berlin’s decision to move him to the other side of the ball with what the Smethport mentor called “the game of his life.” He was an efficient 9-for-13 for 197 yards through the air in leading his offensive unit, which included Gator teammates Nate Lowery and Dylan Baumgarner, on four scoring drives in six attempts. The Port signalcaller escaped the pass rush on several occasions to complete throws downfield, keeping the chains moving, and capped off a second-quarter march with a 3-yard touchdown run that eventually proved to be the game-winning score.

“I got to see him play for four years in the AML, and he came to play tonight,” Berlin said.

For Garzel, though, it was a team effort.

“I can’t take any of the credit, really. My receivers were athletes, all of them, and my line was fantastic. Can’t say enough about those guys,” he said. “You know these guys for two weeks, and you grow so close to them. Especially your line, because they’re the guys that have got my back. A couple of moments in the game, things got a little out of hand, and I had some linemen stick up for me. Linemen, a quarterback’s best friend.”

Both teams moved the ball with relative ease in the first half, with New York pushing inside the Pennsy 20 on its opening drive before losing the ball on a fumbled handoff. Following Pennsylvania’s lone three-and-out, the Empire State squad turned a nifty bit of trickery into the game’s first points, with receiver Elijah Ramadhan (Olean) taking a reverse pitch near the right sideline and lofting a cross-field pass to quarterback Ben Burk (Southwestern), who strolled into the end zone for the 23-yard score.

It didn’t take long for Pennsylvania to reply. Taking over at the New York 48, Garzel opened the drive with a 27-yard toss to Brady Bauer, then hit the 6-foot-4 St. Marys receiver for another eight yards to convert a fourth-and-5 from the 16, setting up a 1-yard dive by Colosimo (Bradford) to knot the score. Eisenhower kicker Grant Venmon added the extra point for a 7-6 lead.

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Ethan Budd (76) helps open a hole for the Pennsy rushing attack. Budd: “It was great. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. You go from hating people to being best friends. When you’re playing against them, it’s not real fun and you don’t want to play with them.But once you get to know them, they’re completely different people.” (Photo: Pam Fischer)

Three plays into the second quarter, New York’s next possession ended with a fourth-down sack near midfield, and the Rolick twins started showing off the talent that propelled their Kane team to AML and District 9 championships last fall. Shane did most of the damage on this drive, turning a bootleg into a 47-yard gain before scoring on a 9-yard keeper.

The Burk-Ramadhan connection struck again on the ensuing New York possession, with the Olean receiver pulling in a 7-yard pass as he crossed the goal line and Caleb Rinko (Ellicottville) adding a two-point conversion to pull into a 14-all tie.

That sent Garzel’s unit back onto the field. Taking advantage of the New York pass rush, Berlin called a perfectly-executed middle screen, with ECC fullback Noah Werner rumbling for 69 yards before finally being dragged down at the 3. Garzel snuck into the end zone on the next play, and the Pennsylvania defense forced another fumble deep in its own territory to keep the score 21-14 as the teams headed to the locker rooms.

A couple of key halftime adjustments by Berlin and his Smethport staff helped break the game open. Seeking a better matchup at the line of scrimmage, he flipped the offensive units so New York’s bigger defensive linemen would have to chase Garzel around, while providing more room to run for the Rolick-led unit.

“It seemed to really wear them down in the second half,” he said.

Pennsylvania marched down the field to open the third quarter, with Garzel eluding a seemingly inevitable sack, then spotting Sheffield tight end Ryan Lemay open to convert another fourth down, setting up first-and-goal at the 3.

As Garzel remembered it, “I saw the end coming out of the corner of my eye, so I spun out. Then the second guy was there, and it was like, ‘oh no.’ I just gave a little push off and I was away from it. It just happens sometimes. I saw Lemay running down the field and I was like, ‘All right, there it is.’ Nice big target, delivered a good ball, he made a nice catch and got a couple of yards after.”

Werner punched in from the 1 to give Pennsylvania a two-score lead, and following a New York punt, Shane Rolick added his second touchdown run of the night on a pretty 23-yard bootleg to open up a 35-14 third-quarter margin.

Meanwhile, the Pennsy defense was starting to shut down the New York attack. After rolling up over 300 yards and 17 first downs before halftime, the northerners went nowhere on their first three second-half drives before finally finding the scoreboard again on a spectacular 44-yard touchdown run by Big 30 Player of the Year Jakeb Jones midway through the fourth quarter.

“Man, was he a heck of a ballcarrier,” Berlin said of the Cuba-Rushford star, who finished the game with 17 carries for 159 yards to break Virgil Graham’s 2005 rushing record by a single yard. “That last run for the score, you don’t get to see that every day. Even from that side of the field, it was enjoyable to watch that kid.”

IMG_0179

Mac Tanner drives through New York kick returner Nate Tackentien (28). Tanner: “It was a blast. Last chance to get on the field and go all out. These guys, these two weeks, we’ve become a family that you won’t ever forget. It was just a blessing to be on the field again one last time before we leave.” (Photo: Pam Fischer)

But if New York had any hopes of mounting a late-game comeback, they were dashed by a grinding 14-play, 70-yard drive which chewed up all but 13 seconds of the remaining time. Once again, it was Garzel breaking free to find his receivers downfield.

“A lot of that’s just will,” he said. “I never want to go down. One guy will not tackle me, is my mindset. You’ve got to make things happen. You see one guy and your mindset is, I’ve got to put a move on him and make a play afterwards.”

A 30-yard scamper by Colosimo moved the ball to the New York 3, and with time winding down, Berlin sent in the field goal unit. Late Bradford Era sports writer Greg Clark, remembered with a moment of silence during the pregame ceremonies, would’ve liked the move as Venmon, who was perfect on five extra-point attempts, booted the 22-yard three-point try “halfway to Derrick City” to close out the scoring.

For Berlin, the 1996 Big 30 Defensive Player of the Year who snagged an crucial interception during Pennsylvania’s 20-14 win in the 1997 game, completing the playing-coaching double was “an awesome opportunity.” Thanking both the Big 30 committee and his assistant coaches, he concluded, “I am super pumped right now. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get to play and then coach this game. It’s pretty cool. Pretty cool.”

While obviously happy about the victory, Pennsylvania players also spoke glowingly about the entire experience, with words like “friends” and “family” repeated often.
Perhaps Port defensive back Jordan Seefeldt, a last-minute addition to the Pennsy roster, said it best:

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Jordan Seefeldt:  (Photo: Pam Fischer)

“It was an absolute ball. Everyone said it was going to be a lot of fun, a great time, and that was an understatement. You get to play with all the players you’ve played against and see a different side of them. There’s a lot of them that are really great guys and they work really hard. The last two weeks with Coach Berlin and his staff, we’ve just had an absolute blast. It’s been a lot of fun, and then to come out and get the ‘W’ just sums it up for a lot of great careers. It was really just a good one to end on.”

43rd Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic
At Bradford, Aug. 6:
PA 7-14-14-3-38
NY 6-8-0-6-20

Scoring summary:
First Quarter
NY (4:24) – Ben Burk 23 pass from Elijah Ramadhan (13 plays, 74 yards); run failed, 0-6
PA (1:06) – Alex Colosimo 1 run (8 plays, 48 yards); Grant Venmon kick, 7-6

Second Quarter
PA (11:54) – Shane Rolick 9 run (5 plays, 52 yards); Venmon kick, 14-6
NY (7:42) – Ramadhan 7 pass from Burk (10 plays, 60 yards); Caleb Rinko run, 14-14
PA (6:17) – Tre’ Garzel 3 run (4 plays, 72 yards); Venmon kick, 21-14

Third Quarter
PA (10:24) – Noah Werner 1 run (10 plays, 79 yards); Venmon kick, 28-14
PA (5:41) – Rolick 23 run (7 plays, 55 yards); Venmon kick, 35-14

Fourth Quarter
NY (7:57) – Jakeb Jones 44 run (4 plays, 50 yards); run failed, 35-20
PA (0:13) – Venmon 22 field goal (14 plays, 70 yards), 38-20

IMG_0128

Nate Lowery: “It was really fun. It was nice getting to know people, going to practice and just hanging out, meeting new people going into college. It was just an all-around great experience.” (Photo: Pam Fischer)

Team Statistics
First Downs: PA 22, NY 19
Rushes-Yds: PA 58-343, NY 47-258
Passing Yds: PA 197, NY 122
Comp-Att-Int: PA 9-16-1, NY 13-20-1
Total Yds: PA 540, NY 380
Punts-Avg: PA 2-39.5, NY 2-52.5
Penalties-Yds: PA 10-82, NY 6-45
Fumbles-Lost: PA 1-0, NY 4-2
Plays: PA 74, NY 67

Individual Statistics
Rushing: PA: Shane Rolick 10-107 (2 TD), Tyler Rolick (7-92), Alex Colosimo 19-89 (TD), Noah Werner 5-23 (TD), Adam Shunk 9-21, Tre’ Garzel 8-11 (TD).
NY: Jakeb Jones 17-159* (TD), Andrew Morris 12-64, Ben Burk 10-19, Caleb Rinko 4-11, Simon Glogouski 1-7, Andrew Fair 1-1, Elijah Ramadhan 1-(-1), team 1-(-2).
* Big 30 Charities Classic record

Passing: PA: Garzel 9-13-1-197, S. Rolick 0-3-0-0.
NY: Burk 12-19-1-99 (TD), Ramadhan 1-1-0-23 (TD).

Receiving: PA: Werner 1-69, Ryan Lemay 4-59, Brady Bauer 3-58, Dylan Baumgarner 1-11.
NY: Rinko 4-44, Glogouski 5-32, Burk 1-23 (TD), Hunter Evingham 2-16, Ramadhan 1-7 (TD).

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Dylan Baumgarner (80) and Brady Bauer (20) wait for the snap. Baumgarner: “I thought it was a great experience, honestly. Had a lot of fun. We basically made a new family.” (Photo: Pam Fischer)

GATOR NOTES:

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With teammate Mac Tanner (21) in the background, Bryan Stahlman (54) sheds a block. (Photo: Pam Fischer)

  • Defensive end Bryan Stahlman served as one of four Pennsylvania captains, joining Brayden Howard (Smethport), Jake Shrubb (Kane) and Daniel Salinas (St. Marys.) New York captains were Nate Tackentien (Pioneer), Zach Bierfeldt (Allegany-Limestone), Wesley Senn (Randolph), and Matt Hanft (Cattaraugus-Little Valley).
  • Stahlman, one of three Port players on defense along with Seefeldt and Mac Tanner, was also one of several Allegheny Mountain League players who took part in both Saturday’s game and the inaugural Frank Varischetti All-Star Game (AML vs. KSAC) in Brockway in early July, giving him a 2-0 record this summer. While saying he enjoyed both experiences, he noted both the history of the Big 30 Game and the chance to bond with teammates over a longer two-week practice period. “Lot different than playing in the AML,” he said. “Everything was a lot quicker than what I’m used to, but we adjusted and it worked out all right.”
  • Two Port Allegany families are now a combined 6-0 in Big 30 history, with linemen Ethan Budd and Nate Lowery joining their fathers, Greg Budd and Scott Lowery (both 1983), and older brothers Seth Lowery (2011) and Nick Budd (2013) in the win column.
  • Cheerleaders Joyanna Landes and Kendra Pelchy also participated in this year’s game, and McKean County Fair Queen candidate Savannah Gray was announced with the other nominees during pregame ceremonies.
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Big 30 Charities Classic cheerleaders Joyanna Landes and Kendra Pelchy. (Photo: Pam Fischer)

Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic this Saturday

With the first week of practice for the 43rd annual Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic safely in the books, Pennsylvania head coach Jim Berlin is pleased with his squad’s progress and looking forward to Saturday night’s game.

“So far real good,” said Berlin, who’s about to begin his fifth season at the top of the Smethport program after five years as an assistant coach there. “The guys have been picking up the offense fairly quickly, picking up the pace on both sides of the ball. It’s exciting to have a bunch of all-stars. You’ve got a bunch of 17-18-year-old guys who’ve been playing since they were little kids. They aren’t awestruck by the terminology.”

The Pennsy roster includes seven players from Allegheny Mountain League North Division champion Port Allegany, with Tre’ Garzel (quarterback), Dylan Baumgarner (receiver), Nate Lowery (tackle) and Ethan Budd (guard) slotted in on offense, and Bryan Stahlman (end), Mac Tanner (strong safety) and Jordan Seefeldt (cornerback) lining up on defense.

“I was talking with Justin (Bienkowski) when we were in Port the other night, and I said I could see why they were successful even with low numbers, because that’s a talented group of guys,” Berlin said of the Gator contingent. “Jordan has a very high football I.Q. as well as Tre’, and Mac’s just ready to get after it all the time.”

Sheldon VanPelt is the lone Coudersport player in the game, with Jordan Crosby and Austin Doud (Cameron County), Heath Stewart and Brycen Schneider (Otto-Eldred), Tanner Barr, Logan Connolly, and Ryan Lemay (Sheffield), and Brayden Howard and Adam Shunk (Smethport) also selected from the AML North. The Hubbers’ Dylan Dinch was chosen, but was unable to participate.

“It’s fun being around those guys, especially the guys I got to see all season on the other teams. You’ve got a good idea of what they’re about,” Berlin said.

Three of the four Smethport coaches are Big 30 alumni themselves, with Berlin and Larry Dennis playing in the 1997 edition a year after Ryan Yingling suited up for Pennsylvania. Adam Jack is the fourth Hubber assistant, while Chris Fee and his Cuba-Rushford staff helm the New York side.

“It’s very exciting to me,” Berlin said of his return to the game. “As a kid growing up around here and playing football, the Big 30, besides going to college and playing football, is one of the things you strive for. Having the opportunity to play in that game and now coach in it is very exciting. It’s real fun.

“The crowd, the buzz around the whole game, it’s exciting. Going around to the different schools for practice, hanging around with different guys, you make lifelong friends in this game. I still have guys that I talk to that I played with, and I relayed that message to these guys a little bit. These guys will make some lifelong friends and get to play in an all-star game with a bunch of really talented players. It’s fun for everybody.”

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The 43rd annual Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic is slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, Aug. 6, at Parkway Field in Bradford. New York will once again claim the home sideline after winning last year’s game, 44-8, to take a 22-18-2 lead in the interstate series which has raised more than $1.6 million for area charities and individuals in need.

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This year’s honorary captains, Mike DaCanal from Elk County Catholic and Paul Rinko from Ellicottville, played in the 1982 game.

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Presale tickets are available at Man’s World and Northwest Savings Bank in Bradford, or by contacting any Big 30 committee member.

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The pregame parade begins at 2:30 on Saturday afternoon, with lineup at 12:30 p.m. in the Best Western parking lot. Following the parade, there will be a tailgate party in the high school parking lot outside the football field in the pavilion. (Note: No alcohol is allowed on school property.) Gates open at 5 p.m., with pregame ceremonies commencing at 6:15.

Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic: Jordan Seefeldt

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Port Allegany RB/WR/DB Jordan Seefeldt (Photo by Pam Fischer)

July 21, 2016

The Pennsylvania roster for this year’s Big 30 Charities Classic includes a congregation of Gators, with Jordan Seefeldt the seventh Port Allegany player added to the Keystone State squad for the 43rd renewal of the annual all-star contest, which is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Aug. 6 at Parkway Field in Bradford. New York, on a two-year winning streak, holds a 22-18-2 overall lead in the series which has raised more than $1.6 million for local individuals and charitable organizations.

“I can’t say enough positive about Jordan Seefeldt. The high level of leadership and coachability he offered to our entire sports program will be tremendously missed now that he has graduated. I will speak on behalf of his basketball and baseball coaches when I say we will miss him on an extremely important and high level,” Gator coach Justin Bienkowski said of the three-sport standout.

“From a football perspective, Jordan was a guy we could always count on to make a big play for our offense. He started his career being mentored by Matt Bodamer and ended his career mentoring our younger guys extremely well. As a head coach I could always count on Jordan doing the right thing with our team goals always on the forefront of his mind. ‘Team first, Jordan last’ would be a slogan to describe how much he valued the team first and his own accomplishments last.”

The 5-11, 165-pound Seefeldt began his varsity gridiron career as the backup quarterback on Port’s record-smashing 2012 squad, then stepped into the starting role the following season. He threw for 971 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore, including a 366-yard performance against Coudersport.

His junior year brought a position switch on offense partway through the season, shifting to running back while Tre’ Garzel took over at quarterback. Seefeldt’s reaction to the move drew praise from Bienkowski.

“He could’ve pouted and let Tre’ fail,” the third-year head coach said. “However, he aided Tre’ to put guys in the right spots and allowed him to execute our offense and accept 100 percent of the credit, no questions asked.”

He ended up leading the team that year with 751 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns, rushing for 132 yards and the game-winning 26-yard score at Coudersport, then clinching a victory over Smethport with an 85-yard pick-six as the Hubbers were driving late in the game.

Seefeldt missed the first three games of his senior year due to injury, but recovered well enough to help the Gators claim the Allegheny Mountain League North Division title — which he listed as his “most memorable moment” in the Big 30 press release — and make the AML All-Star Team at defensive back while contributing at running back, receiver, and quarterback on offense.

“He is honored to play in the Big 30 Game and represent his school. It’s also a chance to play one more game with his guys,” the release noted.

Also a four-year letterman in basketball (along with three in baseball), Seefeldt joined the PAHS 1,000-point club in January. He finished his Gator hardcourt career with 1,119 points, four consecutive berths on the North Tier League All-Star second team, and selection to the Big 30 Senior Classic, where he tallied nine points in Pennsylvania’s 107-95 win.

According to the press release, Seefeldt plans to attend Penn State Behrend and major in secondary math education. A member of the National Honor Society, he also received the John Thrash and Gerald Stayer memorial scholarships and the Technology Education Award at this spring’s assembly. Along with raising prize-winning Angus bulls, his hobbies include power sports (dirt bikes, four-wheelers, snowmobiles), driving heavy equipment and playing basketball. His favorite football team is the Alabama Crimson Tide and his favorite player was Tim Tebow.

Seefeldt joins classmates Dylan Baumgarner, Ethan Budd, Tre’ Garzel, Nate Lowery,
Bryan Stahlman, and Mac Tanner on the Pennsy roster, giving the Gators their second-most players in Big 30 Game history. Only the 2013 edition had more (eight), fresh off their second-straight AML and District 9 titles and the program’s first-ever state playoff win. All but Baumgarner were lettermen on that team, getting an early lesson in the amount of work needed to have a successful season.

“As freshman they witnessed a great experience,” Bienkowski said, “and now as seniors they did their best to fulfill their God-given abilities. We will miss them and we wish them all the best!”

Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic: Mac Tanner

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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  http://www.big30football.org/index.html.

Tanner Sheffield

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

Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic: Tre’ Garzel

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Port Allegany QB/DB Tre’ Garzel (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.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Garzel moved from receiver to quarterback early in the 2014 season and “never looked back,” Port coach Justin Bienkowski said.

A four-year letterman and two-time Allegheny Mountain League North Division All-Star, Garzel completed 72 of 161 passes for 902 yards and 10 touchdowns against just two interceptions as a senior, bringing his career numbers to 139-310, 1682 yards, 17 touchdowns and 9 picks. A three-touchdown performance against Moniteau in Week 4 earned him the Big 30 Impact Yardage Player of the Week award, but he was at his best in the division-clinching win at Smethport, going 18-for-24 for 274 yards and four TD tosses in a game he listed as his ‘most memorable moment’ in the Big 30 press release.

“One thing that defines Tre is his relentless ability to continue coming back and trying to improve. His sports IQ is very high and he really thinks the game. He allowed our offense to open up and become more balanced because of his strong arm,” Bienkowski said.

“Defensively, Tre was very much the guy in charge of the back end in the secondary. He really understood what we wanted from our defensive alignment and made sure guys were in the right spots. Similar to Nate Lowery, Tre has been a part of our program since elementary school and just enjoys being around sports. He’s a heck of a competitor and we are going to miss his willingness to want to get better.”

Also a North Tier League All-Star in basketball, Garzel was recently chosen to play in that sport’s Big 30 Senior Classic, becoming the first Port athlete selected for both games.
Though undecided on his college choice, the National Honor Society member plans to major in actuarial science. A Pittsburgh Steelers fan who lists Antonio Brown as his favorite player and “sports and being with friends” as his hobbies, Garzel “wants to play the game he loves one more time.”

For more information on the Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic, visit  http://www.big30football.org/index.html.

Garzel ECC

Garzel on the run against ECC. (Photo by Pam Fischer)