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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AML Week 4: Tide rolls

PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (0-4)

6

CURWENSVILLE GOLDEN TIDE (4-0)

63

Lori Chase
Sept. 22, 2016

Even in Port Allegany’s better football seasons, a matchup against Curwensville usually ended up as a loss on the Gators’ schedule. Port has only beaten the Golden Tide once since the Clearfield County team joined the Allegheny Mountain League in 1999, and never at Riverside Stadium, the site of this year’s contest.

That streak continued on Friday night, with the Tide rolling to five second-quarter touchdowns on the way to a 63-6 victory, remaining unbeaten at 4-0, while Port dropped to 0-4 in its run through the gauntlet of the AML South.

With team rushing leader Trey Stiles added to the injury report, the already-overmatched Gators were forced to send out as many as five freshmen at a time against the deep, physical Tide.

“I told them at halftime, it’s not fair you guys have to play,” coach Justin Bienkowski said of his first-year varsity players. “I didn’t mean that in a derogatory manner at all; I told them that it’s unfair that you’re asked to have to play against maybe not the best team in the league, but certainly as physical as the best team in the league. But they didn’t back down. They tried.”

Jake Kallenborn scored the first Gator touchdown touchdown of the season on a 15-yard run early in the fourth quarter, stopping an 18-quarter scoreless streak that dated back to the first quarter of last year’s District 9 playoff game against Kane.

“The kids were excited,” Bienkowski said, “and they should have been. I was proud of them, happy that they were able to see some kind of success.”

For the game, the junior quarterback was 8-of-18 for 117 yards and an interception, with Devin Gustin (five catches, 60 yards) and Jared Mahon (2-53) his favorite targets. Curwensville’s Bryce Timko went 5-for-6 with three touchdowns, while standout running back Nick Stewart added 161 yards and three scores on the ground.

With the crossover part of the schedule finally in the rear view mirror, the Gators enter AML North play with the same 0-0 division record as the other five teams, which collectively managed just one win in 24 games against the South. Bienkowski reminded his team of that fact after the game, telling them, “We have just as much right to win the North as any of the other five teams do, because that’s the only record that counts.”

The defending division champs begin defending their title with a trip to Otto-Eldred on Friday night. The Terrors are also 0-4, but threw a scare into Bradford last week before the Class AAAA school managed to escape with a 14-6 win.

“They couldn’t hit any big plays, but they drove the ball,” Bienkowski said after watching the game film.

O-E running back Seth Drummond is a definite threat despite continuing to battle the lingering effects of a knee injury which ended his junior season, and the Gators will also have to be wary of the pass-catch combination of Drummond’s younger brother, Sawyer, and ends Grant West and Garret Babcock.

“They’re struggling up front, so that will minimize some of the sheer overpower-up-the-middle type of glitches we’ve seen. It’ll be a fun night. We’ll look to play, look to compete for four quarters. Some type of productive football, unlike the first four weeks,” Bienkowski said.

“The message that I told the kids at the end of the game on Friday night was, not that we didn’t want to try to win these first four games, but we always want to be realistic. Now our goals is to put crooked numbers in the win column. We need to figure out a way to compete. We have to start trying to put together drives, change field position in our favor, not just bandage up our wounds and get through four quarters. We want to win.”

Score by quarters:
Port Allegany Gators 0 0 0 6 6
Curwensville Golden Tide 15 35 7 6 63

Scoring Summary
First Quarter
C (6:23) – Nick Stewart 2 run; Stewart run, 0-8
C (0:49) – Alec Opaliski 24 fumble return; Madison Weber kick, 0-15
Second Quarter
C (11:50) – Zach Marshall 29 pass from Bryce Timko; Weber kick, 0-22
C (10:06) – Avery Francisco 17 pass from Timko; Weber kick, 0-29
C (8:34) – Stewart 46 run; Weber kick, 0-36
C (6:37) – Caleb Withering 19 run; Weber kick, 0-43
C (5:29) – Eli Jacobs 20 pass from Timko; Weber kick, 0-50
Third Quarter
C (10:55) – Stewart 70 run; Weber kick, 0-57
Fourth Quarter
PA (10:01) – Jake Kallenborn 15 run; kick blocked, 6-57
C (1:20) – Blake Mozzarella 26 run; pass failed, 6-63

Team Statistics:
First downs: Port 12, Curwensville 15. Rushes-Yds: Port 25-14, Curwensville 23-246. C-A-I: Port 8-18-1, Curwensville 5-6-0. Passing yards: Port 117, Curwensville 90. Total offense: Port 131, Curwensville 336. Fumbles-Lost: Port 1-1, Curwensville 0-0. Punts-Avg: Port 3-28.3, Curwensville 0. Penalties-Yds: Port 10-70, Curwensville 5-35. Plays: Port 43, Curwensville 29.

Rovers run past Gators

BROCKWAY ROVERS (3-0)

72

PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (0-3)

0

Lori Chase
Sept. 15, 2016

Injuries left an already-thin Port Allegany football roster scrambling against one of the best teams in District 9 on Friday night, with the results showing on the Gator Field scoreboard in Brockway’s 72-0 Allegheny Mountain League crossover win.

The deep, talented Rovers (3-0) entered the week tied for third in the D9Sports.com Top 10, behind only Kane and Class AAAA DuBois, and they’ll likely move up following their third dominating victory in a row and the Beavers’ loss to Meadville.

“Mad respect for their program. They’re just a better team than us right now,” said Port coach Justin Bienkowski. “We were at the top of the mountain. Now we’re at the bottom and we have to work our way back up. But I’m super proud of my guys, of the way they continue to battle. That scoreboard is not a sign of the character we have. I firmly believe that.”

Mark Latuska, a 1,000-yard rusher last year, led the Brockway attack with three touchdown runs. The 6-2, 220-pound senior punched in two short scores in the first quarter, then showed breakaway speed on a 90-yard sprint down the visitors’ sideline on his final carry of the game.

The Rovers took advantage of five first-half Gator turnovers to build a commanding 50-0 lead at the break, and began substituting freely during the second quarter.

“I told them at halftime, you’re going to have rough times, but this sport will teach you that you’ve got to keep coming back. I firmly believe that, and I’m proud of our guys for trying to become better,” Bienkowski said.

“We’re 0-3. It shouldn’t taste good. We shouldn’t be okay with it. But at the end of the day, it’s a game. It’s a high school sport where you’re making some friendships and gaining some respect for each other. That’s what we’re taking from it. We’ll come back and try to get better.”

The Gator coaching staff already knew they’d struggle to replace the seven AML all-stars lost to graduation this spring, but the task got even more difficult when both starting quarterback Daniel Jordan and two-way lineman Jesse Rush, one of just three returning starters, were sidelined.

Jake Kallenborn, seeing his first action at quarterback since early in his freshman season, completed 8-of-16 passes for 65 yards with three interceptions. Hunter Kisko, a 5-9, 160-pound freshman, took over for the injured Rush at center, often giving up close to 100 pounds to the Brockway defensive linemen.

“Hunter Kisko fumbled the first snap, could’ve very well checked out, but he played his tail off for us,” Bienkowski said. “As a freshman, playing against one of the best teams in Class AA.”

It doesn’t get any easier this week, when the Gators wrap up their crossover schedule by making the long drive to Curwensville to play the always-tough Golden Tide.

“It’s a challenge. We’ve got to be able to travel and play on the road. It’s always been a tough place to play. We’ve never beaten Curwensville down there since they entered the AML; we were fortunate enough to play them up here during our glory years.

“They’re a good team. Physical. We know what they’re going to do, we know they’ve got Nick Stewart and we know he’s going to run the ball. We just have to figure out a way to stop him.”

At Port Allegany, Sept. 9:

Score by quarters:
Brockway Rovers 29 21 15 7 72
Port Allegany Gators 0 0 0 0 0

Scoring Summary
First Quarter
B (11:42) – LeCates 24 pass from Miller (1 play, 24 yds); Esposito kick, 7-0
B (5:01) – LeCates 10 run (9 plays, 79 yds); LeCates pass from Esposito, 15-0
B (4:03) – Latuska 4 run (2 plays, 4 yds); Esposito kick, 22-0
B (0:05) – Latuska 1 run (3 plays, 57 yds); Esposito kick, 29-0
Second Quarter
B (9:27) – Latuska 90 run (1 play, 90 yds); Esposito kick, 36-0
B (5:44) – Miller 2 run (5 plays, 55 yds); Esposito kick, 43-0
B (0:35) – Serafini 10 run (4 plays, 50 yds); Esposito kick, 50-0
Third Quarter
B (9:23) – Jo. Wood 31 pass from Downer (5 plays, 54 yds); B. Smith pass from Inzana, 58-0
B (1:03) – Inzana 1 run (9 plays, 68 yds); Puhala kick, 65-0
Fourth Quarter
B (1:10) – Glasl 4 run (10 plays, 81 yds); Puhala kick, 72-0

Team Statistics:
First downs: Brockway 25, Port 10. Rushes-Yds: Brockway 28-331, Port 31-27. C-A-I: Brockway 15-22-1, Port 8-16-3. Passing yards: Brockway 243, Port 65. Total offense: Brockway 574, Port 92. Fumbles-Lost: Brockway 0-0, Port 4-3. Punts-Avg: Brockway 0, Port 4-27.3. Penalties-Yds: Brockway 6-70, Port 3-30. Plays: Brockway 50, Port 47.

Other AML Results:
Bradford 76, Cameron County 12
Kane 43, Coudersport 8
Ridgway 38, Smethport 0
Curwensville 43, Sheffield 0
Elk County Catholic 31, Otto-Eldred 0
(game called at half due to weather)

AML Week 2: Gators fall to Ridgway

PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (0-2)

0

RIDGWAY ELKERS (2-0)

50

Lori Chase
Sept. 8, 2016

Two weeks into the season, the Port Allegany varsity football team is still seeking its first win following last Friday’s 50-0 Allegheny Mountain League setback against Ridgway at Memorial Field in Johnsonburg.

And with starter Daniel Jordan sidelined for at least the next few weeks due to injury, the Gators (0-2) are also looking for a new quarterback.
“I feel bad, because he played one full game his sophomore year, none his junior year, and one full game his senior year. That’s it,” Port coach Justin Bienkowski said.

The second quarter was the key to victory for the combined Ridgway/Johnsonburg squad, as they sandwiched a pair of short scoring drives around Neil MacDonald’s 66-yard punt return to build a 35-0 halftime lead.

“Overall, we were pretty pleased with the first half, especially the first quarter. We made them earn everything they got on their offensive end. We just seemed to give the ball back to them at inopportune times with good field position,” Bienkowski said. “We couldn’t sustain a drive on offense. We’re struggling on that side of the ball, trying to establish the line of scrimmage, but it’s certainly not for a lack of effort. Then the game just kind of got away from us in the second half.”

MacDonald also scored the first touchdown for Ridgway (2-0) and led all ballcarriers with 50 yards on seven attempts, while quarterback Johnny Mitchell ran for one score and threw for another. Trey Stiles rushed for 33 yards to pace the Gators and also contributed a team-leading eight stops on defense, with Josh Rees and Deven Smoker each contributing a tackle for loss.

Mentioning Stiles and Jake Kallenborn as two players who stood out on his squad, Bienkowski added, “Trey’s trying to make every possible cut and hit every hole he can, sticking his shoulder in there against guys double and triple his size. Gotta love that. Jake’s blocking guys to the whistle. Obviously, getting beat, they’re not happy, but you can tell they just love playing football. I don’t care what the score is, it’s hard not to like that.”

Of the team as a whole, he added, “They give it their all. I love and respect the effort they give, and the appreciation they have for the opportunity to play the sport. The skill level isn’t there right now, but the things we can help, effort and intensity, they bring it. We just tip our cap to a better football team in Ridgway.”

Moving forward, Kallenborn is the likely choice as Jordan’s replacement behind center. The 6-0, 160-pound junior played the position in junior high and as a backup during his freshman year before shifting to receiver, then moving to the line this season.

“He’s tall, very intelligent, extremely coachable and a good leader,” Bienkowski said. “I think that’s probably the route we’re going to go. The only problem with that is that it leaves such a huge hole at left guard. The kid’s a player. I’d take a team full of him every week. He’ll have to learn some of the intricacies of the game again, the footwork part, but he’ll pick up on it.”

The Gators face another formidable AML South foe this week in Brockway, which rolls into “The Swamp” this Friday night at 2-0 after beating Otto-Eldred 57-6 and Sheffield 56-9. The Rovers boast a balanced offense, with quarterback Hunter Miller tossing four touchdown passes against the Wolverines a week after running back Mark Latuska found the end zone four times against the Terrors.

“They spread it out, but mainly to run it,” Bienkowski said.

Taking one last look at the Ridgway game, he concluded, “We fixed some mistakes and made some new ones, but I respect their effort. I’m proud to coach them. We’ve just got to figure out a way to max out our talent, and that’s my job. Once again, I’ve got a fantastic coaching staff that’s losing sleep trying to make things work. We’re trying.

“We’re going to do some mixing and some matching, and our goal is to be at full strength, ready to roll, when we go to Eldred in three weeks. We’re going to keep on plugging.”

At Johnsonburg, Sept. 2:
Port Allegany 0-0-0-0-0
Ridgway 14-21-7-8-50

Scoring Summary
First Quarter
Ridgway (4:45) – Neil MacDonald 1 run; Aaron Hinton kick, 0-7
Ridgway (0:34) – Johnny Mitchell 22 run; Hinton kick, 0-14
Second Quarter
Ridgway (7:49) – Jacob Myers 2 run; Hinton kick, 0-21
Ridgway (4:08) – MacDonald 66 punt return; Hinton kick, 0-28
Ridgway (1:26) – Ryan Kilhoffer 22 pass from Mitchell; Hinton kick, 0-35
Third Quarter
Ridgway (7:46) – Jacob Zimmerman 1 run; Hinton kick, 0-42
Fourth Quarter
Ridgway (3:51) – Evan Furlong 30 run; Joey Elinski pass from Hinton, 50-0

Team Statistics:
First downs: Port 4, Ridgway 14. Rushes-Yds: Port 29-41, Ridgway 37-245. C-A-I: Port 0-2-0, Ridgway 2-4-0. Passing yards: Port 0, Ridgway 22. Total offense: Port 41, Ridgway 289. Fumbles-Lost: Port 1-1, Ridgway 0-0. Punts-Avg: Port 5-34.4, Ridgway 1-50. Penalties-Yds: Port 4-35, Ridgway 4-35. Plays: Port 31, Ridgway 41.

Kane blasts Port in AML opener

KANE WOLVES (1-0)

70

PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (0-1)

0

Lori Chase
Sept. 1, 2016

Friday night’s Allegheny Mountain Football League season opener marked the third consecutive time that Kane showed up on Port Allegany’s schedule, following the Wolves’ back-to-back wins in last year’s AML championship game and the first round of the district playoffs.

Given the results, no one could blame the Gators if they didn’t want to see their cross-county visitors again any time soon.

While the Port program is in full rebuilding mode with just three starters returning from last year’s 6-5 squad, the two-time defending District 9 Class A champions, who moved back up to Class AA this season, brought back a solid core featuring Big 30 All-Stars Erik Delong and Toby Fox along with several other key contributors from their 2015 state playoff run.

The contrast was stark under the lights at “The Swamp.” Led by Delong’s 159 rushing yards and four touchdowns — all before halftime — Kane rolled to a 70-0 victory, the most points ever scored against the Port High varsity. It was their sixth consecutive win in the series, which now stands 21-13 in favor of the Wolves.

“Great start,” head coach Todd Silfies said. “We were sloppy at times early on, but give credit to our guys to not let little bumps in the road get us down. Great team effort.

“I give Port Allegany a lot of credit too,” he added. “They’ve got a lot of new kids out on the field today, and those kids didn’t quit fighting, in particular their quarterback (senior Daniel Jordan, who missed almost all of the last two seasons due to injury). He was still leading their team down the field at the end. Kids like that, they’re going to get better every week, and they’re going to do things.”

Citing Port’s five-game AML North winning streak which secured the division title and a D-9 playoff berth, he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw something similar to last year from those guys.”

Despite losing twin terrors Shane (2,143 total yards, 28 touchdowns) and Tyler (1,691 yards, 19 TDs) Rolick to graduation, Kane picked up right where it left off last December. With a veteran offensive line blasting open holes for Delong and fullback Austin Labesky, the Wolves scored each time they had the ball and piled up 562 yards of offense while the defense forced four turnovers and allowed just 119 total yards and nine first downs, much of that in the second half.

“I’ve been watching AML football since I was eight years old, back in Johnsonburg and then moving here, and in my lifetime the Rolick boys were as good as anybody,” Port coach Justin Bienkowski said. “For them to come back like that after losing those guys … (coordinator) Tyler Smith on offense, Todd on defense, coach Sirianni on the line, all the role coaches they have, it’s a class program. Regardless of the score, they deserved to win and they did.”

A long kickoff return by Frank Truden set up a 19-yard burst by Labesky for Kane’s first score just 1:06 into the game, but Gator junior Trey Stiles came oh-so-close to matching it on the ensuing kickoff. Picking up the loose ball at his own 10, Stiles found a seam up the middle of the field and raced all the way to the Kane 11 before the Wolves’ Ray Maze finally managed to track him down for the touchdown-saving tackle.

Port couldn’t cash in on the opportunity, though, turning the ball over on downs at the 10, and the Wolves set off on a 90-yard march in the other direction capped by Delong’s first foray into the end zone.

“That was nice to have our backs against the wall and kind of learn from it,” Silfies said.

From there, with Kane using its size and strength to dominate the line of scrimmage, the game settled into a pattern: the overmatched Gators struggling to move past their own 40-yard line before giving the ball up via punt or turnover, followed by another Wolves scoring drive. By the time Delong closed out the first half with his fourth touchdown run of the night and kicker Joe Johnson added his seventh successful extra point, Kane led 49-0 and the third quarter began under the PIAA mercy rule.

“We told the kids at halftime to try to start finding little successes, whether it’s four-yard gains or first downs or completed passes or six points. Just trying to set realistic little goals, let the kids taste some success,” Bienkowski said, “because we have one heck of a bitter taste in our mouths right now.”

With the Wolves starters on the sideline after another short scoring drive to open the second half, the Port offense finally started finding some traction, driving deep into Kane territory on three successive possessions. Long runs by Wyatt Dean (13 carries-63 yards) and Stiles (14-87) on back-to-back plays set up first-and-goal midway through the third quarter, but once again, the Gators were turned away on a fourth-down stop.

Kane backup quarterback Jake Alcorn capped the scoring with a pair of long fourth-quarter touchdown sprints, with the speedy freshman getting to the edge and outrunning the tired Gator defenders down the sideline.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t say, absolutely 100 percent credit to Kane football. Once again they showed their year-round commitment to the sport,” Bienkowski said, mentioning his appreciation to his counterpart for “keeping it classy” as the score mounted. “That’s very important, because it teaches kids that you stay humble when you’re good, you stay classy when you’re good, and you stay humble in defeat. I told our kids, there’s a lot of lessons there.”

Crediting Jordan and fellow captains TyDel Green, Jesse Rush, and Jake Kallenborn for keeping the team together, he added, “I wouldn’t want to single any one person out; all 28 kids saw time tonight, and they all gave us what they had.

“Ultimately, I’m proud of our guys. They played a game as hard as they could. At the end of the day, it’s a game, and it taught them some lessons. They took a huge slice of humble pie tonight, and ate it in one gulp. They’re going to wake up sore tomorrow. But I told them, ‘Just guarantee me, promise me you’ll come back on Monday — that’s all we can ask from them — and try to get better.’”

NEXT UP: Port faces the combined Ridgway/Johnsonburg programs in another AML crossover game, with kickoff at Memorial Field in Johnsonburg slated for 7 p.m. Friday evening. The Gators are 11-9-1 all-time, 10-6-1 in the AML against the Elkers (including a 19-14 victory in the 1988 championship game, their only postseason meeting) and hold a current five-game winning streak in the series.

At Port Allegany, Aug. 26:

Score by quarters:
Kane Wolves 28 21 7 14 70
Port Allegany Gators 0 0 0 0 0

Scoring Summary:
First Quarter
K – Austin Labesky 19 run (3 plays, 29 yards, 1:06); Joe Johnson kick, 7-0
K – Erik DeLong 4 run (11 plays, 90 yards, 4:19); Johnson kick, 14-0
K – Frank Truden 70 run (1 play, 70 yards, 0:12); Johnson kick, 21-0
K – DeLong 5 run (4 plays, 24 yards, 0:12); Johnson kick, 28-0
Second Quarter
K – DeLong 20 run (4 plays, 46 yards, 0:59); Johnson kick, 35-0
K – Truden 65 pass from Reed Williams (4 plays, 78 yards, 1:43); Johnson kick, 42-0
K – DeLong 39 run (2 plays, 32 yards, 0:46); Johnson kick, 49-0
Third Quarter
K – Labesky 18 run (2 plays, 18 yards, 0:57); Johnson kick, 56-0
Fourth Quarter
K – Jake Alcorn 73 run (8 plays, 95 yards, 6:06); Johnson kick, 63-0
K – Alcorn 43 run (2 plays, 70 yards, 1:05); Johnson kick, 70-0

Team Statistics: Kane Port A
First downs 22 9
Rushes-Yards 33-442 41-108
Comp-Att-Int 5-8-0 3-9-2
Passing Yards 120 11
Total Yards 562 119
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 4-2
Punts-Avg. 0 2-30.0
Penalties-Yards 12-75 3-15
Total Plays 41 50
Time of poss. 17:13 30:47

Individual statistics:
Rushing:
 Kane – Erik Delong 14-159 (4 TD), Jake Alcorn 5-144 (2 TD), Frank Truden 2-70 (TD), Austin Labesky 4-49 (2 TD), Aiden Hulings 3-39, Ange Costanzo 1-6, Devin Young 1-3, Reed Williams 2-(-12). Port Allegany – Trey Stiles 13-86, Wyatt Dean 13-63, Devin Gustin 5-(-9), Daniel Jordan 9-(-20), team 1-(-11).
Passing: Kane – Williams 5-8-0-120 (1 TD). Port Allegany – Jordan 3-9-2-11.
Receiving: Kane – Truden 1-65, Davis Gardner 3-41, Ray Maze 1-14. Port Allegany – Isaac Smoker 1-6, Dean 1-3, Jared Mahon 1-2.

(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)

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.”

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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

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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.”

***

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.

***

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

***

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

***

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.