Rovers run past Gators





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 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)

Gator soccer nets 100th win


100 wins and counting for the Port Allegany boys soccer program. Front row (L-R): Matt Lawton, Josh Mealy, Simon Burleson, Javin Stiles, Seth Bowers, Jordan Card, Bladen Yeager, Robbie Arnet, Chris Baily, Brandon McCaslin, McKenzie Elliot, Eli Petruzzi, Tyler Lashway, Briar Caulkins, Payton Caden, Howie Stuckey, Aaron Clark, Aiden Clark, Justin Osani. Back Row (L-R): Benjamin Lawton, Shawn McNeil, Josh Conklin, Jordan Bell, Gavin Minich, Adam Doan, Leo McDowell, Daniel Harris, Bryce Baker, Calvin Burleson, David Talkington      (Photo provided)

Lori Chase
Sept. 8, 2016

Port Allegany opened its boys soccer season on the right foot last weekend, picking up a 1-0 win over Olean in the first round of Allegany-Limestone’s “Gator Cup” tournament before falling to the home team, 2-1, in the championship game the following night.

Not only was it the first time Port had ever beaten the Huskies, a Class B school, but it marked an even bigger milestone: The school’s 100th victory in the sport, something coaches Aaron Clark and Matt Lawton probably never even thought about when they began the program in 2006. The Gators won a single game in that inaugural campaign, but quickly established themselves as a team to reckon with in District 9, appearing in the 2013 Class A championship game during a still-running string of eight consecutive postseason berths.

“I guess it just means that we’ve had a lot of good athletes,” said Clark, who willingly endured a celebratory postgame Gatorade shower. “We’ve been lucky to get a lot of good soccer players. Some of those years were easy to coach; we’d set the starting lineup and then sit down.”

Brandon McCaslin netted the only goal of the contest against Olean on a penalty kick 20 minutes into the first half, and Josh Mealy and Adam Doan combined for 12 saves to secure the shutout despite being outshot 19-9.

“We played different tactically than what we typically try to play,” Clark explained. “Our players are used to being the team that sort of dictates the style; they’re used to playing a faster game where they control the ball. Olean is just so talented, they’re such a physical team, we focused on playing defense. We were trying to make sure every player was covering who they were supposed to. We were lucky enough that on one of our counterattacks, Brandon got tackled in the box and got a penalty kick, and he converted it.

“Honestly, the rest of the game was all about slowing it down. Olean was trying to play a faster game, trying to run up and down the field quickly. I thought the players did a really good job of frustrating Olean, doing what they could to aggravate and basically take them out of their game plan.”

Port struck first in Saturday’s Gator-versus-Gator final, with Mackenzie Elliott converting a direct kick just 1:14 into the game, but Allegany-Limestone’s Mike Wolfgang leveled the score with 14 minutes left in the first half and Dylan Talbot netted the game-winner midway through the second session to give the New York squad the win on its home turf. Conner Golley made four saves to earn the win in goal, with Mealy corralling five shots for Port.

“We had the same number of shots and more corner kicks, but it was still the same type of game where they possessed the ball more and we relied on our counterattack,” Clark said. “I don’t think we had quite enough in the tank to be able to stay with them.”

While he would’ve loved to bring the championship trophy home on the team bus, Clark was still pleased with his squad’s performance.

“I feel great about where the team is at right now,” he said. “I think I’d be hard-pressed to say that anybody we’re going to play in District 9 has the same combination of physical play, speed and skill on the ball. We’re going to play some really physical teams, but they’re not going to be as talented or as fast. We’re going to play some talented teams, but they’re not going to have the physicality. Both Olean and Allegany-Limestone had all three facets of the game.”

With Tuesday’s game at Ridgway pushed back to Oct. 3, Port opens its regular-season slate at home against Kane on Thursday before hosting ECC and Smethport next week.
Coudersport is the defending UAVSL North champion, and Clark expects them to be his team’s “biggest challenge” in the division again this year.

“I saw that they beat Bradford this weekend. Knowing what they’re bringing back, they’ve got a lot of talent on their roster, so I have to assume that we’re going to have a fight on our hands against them,” he said.

As for his postseason outlook? “Going into the league and district schedule, I think there’s really three or four teams at the top of the district. I’d like to think that we’re in that top three or four teams.”


The Port Allegany girls soccer team came home from Bradford with a split in the Owls’ season-opening tournament over the weekend, dropping a 2-1 decision to Portville on Friday afternoon before blanking rival Smethport, 4-0, on Saturday morning. The Panthers went on to beat Bradford, 4-0, for the tourney title.

Autumn Buchsenschutz, the team’s leading scorer last season with nine goals, tallied once in each game, with Autumn Freer, Rylee Lawton, and Shaylee Caulkins adding goals against the Hubbers.

After hosting St. Marys on Tuesday, the Gators (1-1) are slated to travel to Wellsboro on Saturday for an 11 a.m. start, then play at Smethport next Monday.

AML Week 2: Gators fall to Ridgway





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





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:
 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


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.


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.”


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:


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


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).


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)



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.

Big 30 Charities Classic cheerleaders Joyanna Landes and Kendra Pelchy. (Photo: Pam Fischer)

Temengil ready to roll in Rio

Aug. 4, 2016

The sport of wrestling has taken Florian Skilang Temengil to just about every corner of the world.

From growing up in Dallas, the son of immigrants from the tiny Republic of Palau in the western Caroline Islands, to becoming an NWCA All-American at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas, to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, to a gold medal at the 2016 Oceania Championships in New Zealand and bronze at the Africa Oceania Olympic Qualifier in Algeria — and even a week-long visit to Port Allegany in June for this year’s Bruno Iorfido Wrestling Camp.

Now, it’s brought ‘Flo’ from a training session in Korea to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, site of the 2016 Summer Games, where he’ll lead the Palauan delegation into the opening ceremony tomorrow night before stepping onto the mat for his opening-round 125kg freestyle match on Aug. 20.

“Palau’s such a small country, there’s not a lot of funding. We’re building a sport; I’m only the second generation of wrestlers there. So if I don’t go, no one goes from my country,” he said during his stint at ‘Camp Bruno.’

“We’re trying to build it. That’s what I’m here for. I feel like it’s kind of a little bigger than me. I have to stick with it, keep the next kids coming up. I think it’s gonna be a good thing, staying with it, especially for the island.”

Reached via Facebook on Monday afternoon, a few days after Team Palau landed in Brazil, he relayed that “it’s been a hassle getting wrestling partners, but I was able to do a little live wrestling today and blew my lungs out with the Cuban team. It’s going to be a buildup to my match. Every day, I’ll push it a little more and feel a little better.

“The food is okay, the rooms are kind of like dorms, the people are very nice, and the facilities are big. Lots of traffic here, but Rio looks better over on the village side.”

And you’d better believe Temengil is looking forward to the Parade of Nations during the opening ceremony at the fabled Estádio do Maracanã.

“I’ll be the one holding the flag for Palau,” he said. “And maybe I’ll be wearing a surprise outfit.”

The opening ceremony will be carried on NBC (tape-delayed) at 8:00 p.m. on Aug. 5.

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.

Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic: Jordan Seefeldt

Seefeldt pose

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!”

Camp Bruno continues to grow

Team Bruno 2016

Team Bruno, circa 2016.

Lori Chase
June 30, 2016

It’s becoming an annual tradition, and one which keeps growing every year.

For a week in mid-June, dozens of young wrestlers, coaches, and clinicians from all over the country — and this year, even an Olympian from the island nation of Palau — made the pilgrimage to Port Allegany for the 13th annual Bruno Iorfido Wrestling Camp.

Renamed in 2004 to honor the memory of the Ridgway High School standout and Pitt-Johnstown All-American who died in an auto accident shortly after working at the camp the previous summer, this year’s sessions boasted nearly 150 campers and more than three dozen coaches and teachers from the sports of wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and mixed martial arts.

“We’re pretty much at capacity for the number of kids we can handle, so that worked out perfect,” said Isaac Greeley, who co-founded the camp with Sean Lathrop, Aaron Rendos, and Jared Kulek. “Everyone’s got the ‘Bruno Spirit,’ where everyone gets into what Bruno was trying to accomplish, trying to carry on his legacy.”

Over at the registration table, Lathrop was already working on how to borrow more mats and find housing for more campers next year.

“That’s a tough problem to have,” he said, smiling. “Every year, things just seem to fall into place. We may have a hiccup here or there, but everybody steps in to help.”

One of the highlights of this year’s camp, in addition to a visit by two-time NCAA Division 1 champion Quentin Wright (Penn State), was Florian Temengil’s first visit to the mountains of northern Pennsylvania.

The 29-year-old Temengil, who lives and works in Dallas after becoming an All-American wrestler at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas, will head to Brazil in August to represent Palau in the 125-kg freestyle division at the Summer Olympics. It will be the second Olympiad for Temengil, the reigning heavyweight champion in Oceania, who also wrestled at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

A conversation with an MMA fighter he was working out with in Dallas brought up Greeley’s name as someone who’s had success coaching in several different forms of combat sports, including current UFC fighter Chris Dempsey and Dom Mazzotta, who’s set to challenge for the Cage Fury Fighting Championships bantamweight title in Atlantic City in August.

“I texted Isaac, he invited me out, and it’s been a great idea. I needed to get away from working and focus for a little while for the Games. You have to prepare. So this has been amazing,” Temengil said. “The whole town’s been great. I’m really glad I came. It’s like 150 degrees in Dallas, and here, kids are swimming while their parents are wearing sweaters. It’s a little different up here, but it’s nice. I like it. Everyone’s been really friendly. A real good experience.”

Greeley explained, “I told ‘Flo’ I had some good heavyweights to wrestle with and some great coaches, so he made the trip up, and he stayed with Ray Howard. He’s been training with D.J. Sims (UPJ), Nick Budd (Gannon), and Al Beattie (UPJ), and Tom Storey (1989 Coudersport state champ and former college coach) has been working out with him too.”

At Thursday’s cookout at the Port Allegany Veterans Memorial pavilion, it didn’t matter whether you were from Port Allegany, Pittsburgh, or Palau, with the festivities taking on the appearance of a giant family reunion.

“I’ve just got to give credit to Isaac and Brandon (Newill, Iorfido’s UPJ teammate) and Sean, all the people that put this thing together,” said longtime UPJ coach Pat Pecora, who continues to make the trip upstate every year. “It’s just amazing. And, of course, the purpose is outstanding. What better way for a person to live on than have a memorial for them with a celebration? Not only the guys he wrestled with, but his family, his brothers, the wrestling community…To me, it’s a blessed event. I leave here every year feeling like I came from a revival meeting or something. It’s such a great feeling. I know Bruno would be so humbled and honored to see it: ‘All these people are getting together for me?’”

Iorfido’s family also comes up from Ridgway for the event. This year, camp organizers presented them with a plaque bearing the names of BIWC scholarship winners, with the current total of awards standing at $27,000.

“When I saw the team picture this morning, I knew this was the biggest camp yet. I was very proud. Proud of this staff,” said Iorfido’s father, ‘Big Bruno.’

“When I see the guys that Bruno wrestled with, Brandon, Isaac, Aaron, Craig (Hight), I’m so proud to see you guys here every year. For all you new campers, you younger guys, this is going to be your family. Wrestling is gonna be your family. This is going to carry you through the rest of your life. These people that you’re with, your wrestling family, it’s going to be a very important part of your life.”

Greeley echoed the sentiment.

“It’s a pretty special thing. You just can’t create this in one night; it’s been 20 years in the making,” he said. “This is the 20th year having camp, the 13th year of it being the Bruno Iorfido scholarship camp. It’s just something special that we’ve created. It’s pretty amazing.”

A plaque containing the names of the Bruno Iorfido Wrestling Camp scholarship winners was presented to Iorfido’s family during a awards ceremony at the Port Allegany Veterans Memorial on June 16.
From left: Iorfido’s college coach at Pitt-Johnstown, Pat Pecora, camp co-founders Sean Lathrop and Isaac Greeley, 2016 Olympics wrestler Florian Temengil (holding plaque), Bruno’s parents, ‘Big Bruno’ and Val Iorfido, and his brothers Beau and Paul Iorfido.
(Photo: Pam Fischer)

In addition to Port Allegany High School, which has been “real hospitable letting us use their facilities,” Lathrop had a list of people to thank:

“Most important, my wife Laurie and daughters Becca, Allison, and Hannah.”

Mick and Sue Greeley, Ray and Janet Howard, John and Becky Caden, Brad, Jenny, B.J. and Jena Greenman, Barry and Donna Sauers, Mark, Phil, and Perry Carlson, Rod and Pam Rees, and Perry and Jon-Marc Burdick all helped house campers and clinicians for the week.

Also, Steve Crowe, the Port Allegany Veterans Memorial, Dave Frontino and the Port Shop ‘n Save, and Pam Fischer and Lori Chase of the Reporter Argus.

Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic: Mac Tanner


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

Lori Chase
March 24, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tanner Sheffield

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