52ND BIG 33 FOOTBALL CLASSIC PREVIEW
Keystone Staters will be happy to know, if they weren’t aware already, that Pennsylvania has won the last three Big-33 Football Classics over Ohio, and taken a lead in the series between the two states.
Come Saturday evening, the boys in the blue and gold will look to make it four wins in a row, and add to the 120-68 (40-23 average score) margin they’ve hung on the red and grey the last three meetings.
Pennsylvania meets Ohio at HersheyPark Stadium, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. (7:06, if you want to be technical about it).
The PA team, which fields an impressive list of names, as always, will be led by head coach Tim Janocko (Clearfield Area). Janocko will enter his 25th year as a coach this fall fresh off of guiding his Bison to a 10-3 record and a berth in the “AAA” state playoffs against Erie Strong Vincent. His system at Clearfield has been dubbed the “Air Janocko” offense, and consistently produced gaudy passing statistics, including a quarterback who set the state single-season record for touchdown passes back in 1994.
Janocko will have a pair of quality quarterbacks to run his offense. Curtis Drake (West Catholic) ran and passed for over 1,000 yards each, directing a Burrs’ team that became the second-most proficient scoring team in state history (775 points) last year. James Capello (Lebanon) rounds out the other half of the QB equation. Capello threw for over 5,800 career yards, and is coming off of a stellar senior season, one in which he threw for over 2,900 yards and ran for nearly 900 more.
Running backs Rob Hollomon (West Catholic) and Lyle Marsh (Bethel Park) each surpassed 1,400 rushing yards. Hollomon set a Philadelphia-area record for touchdowns scored in a single season, and Marsh finished his season with over 20 rushing touchdowns.
The PA roster features four wide receivers, an important element to any spread offensive attack. Brent Fox (Muhlenberg), Malik Generette (York-William Penn), John Schademan (Bethel Park) and Devin Street (Bethlehem Liberty) each led their respective teams in receiving yardage last season. Of the quartet, only Schademan surpassed 1,000 receiving yards on the season. Fox missed that mark by a mere 37 yards – Generette tallied over 800 yards in York’s Veer offense, and Street finished near the 800-yard mark in an offense that produced two 1,000-yard rushers for the third time in four years.
Defensively, Pennsylvania boasts some recognizable names: Ronnie Akins (North Penn), Dana Brown (McKeesport), A.J. Fenton (Erie McDowell), Jordan Hill (Steelton-Highspire), Chris Houston (Bishop McDevitt), Jack Lippert (Central Dauphin), Dan Mason (Penn Hills), Jordan Smith (Steelton-Highspire) and Rob Stupar (State College Area).
Pennsylvania will be faced with the challenge of corralling an Ohio team led by Cleveland Glenville’s stalwart offensive lineman Marcus Hall, a major Division-1 prospect. The Tarblooders, an Ohio Senate League powerhouse, feature four athletes on the Big-33 roster. Two other Ohio athletes attended Cincinnati Elder High School.
Ohio last won in the series in 2005, 34-28.
Pennsylvania won on the arm (and legs) of Liberty’s Dan Persa in 2007, defeating Ohio 28-10. Last year, Tino Sunseri (Pittsburgh Central Catholic) helped carve up the Buckeye State defense in a 31-16 triumph.
Pennsylvania won in a shootout, 61-42, in 2006.
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