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High school football notebook: Pennsylvania to play Maryland in Big 33 game

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Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, 11:02 p.m.

Maryland will replace Ohio as Pennsylvania's opponent in the Big 33 Football Classic, ending a 20-year rivalry with the Buckeye State.

The change will provide solid high school talent while also potentially drawing larger crowds to Hershey for the all-star game, said executive director Dave Trimbur, noting the shorter trip from Maryland.

Next year's game is June 15.

“They can make it here in two hours,” he said, “while Ohio is six or seven hours away. When you put all that stuff together, it made sense for us to go back to Maryland.”

Maryland was Pennsylvania's Big 33 opponent between 1985-92, and the Keystone state won six of eight games.

In the 20 years since, Ohio won 11 times, including the past four. Among Ohio's alumni were Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk.

“The biggest question we've heard: You've lost four years in a row. Is that why you switched now?” Trimbur said with a laugh. “The answer is no.”

Pennsylvania also played Ohio from 1972-76. All combined, Ohio led the series, 13-12.

Pennsylvania's opponent has varied since the game began in 1958, including Texas for four years in the mid-1960s.

The Big 33 matchups are scheduled in five-year increments, so Maryland will remain through at least 2017.

Ohio was willing to maintain the series, Trimbur said, but Big 33 organizers considered Ohio, New York and New Jersey before choosing Maryland.

“If Maryland didn't have the talent they have, we wouldn't have done it,” Trimbur said.

Maryland had four players ranked among Rivals' Top 100 this season, led by Eastern Christian Academy defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow, a USC recruit ranked No. 12. Pennsylvania also had four.

Rosters for next summer's game, which features this fall's seniors, have not been determined.

Exclusive club

Beaver joined the 600 club with last week's 35-13 victory over Ellwood City, becoming the 10th WPIAL program to reach the milestone. The Bobcats, which started playing football in 1904, are 600-378-55.

Next to reach 600 could be McKeesport, which has 596 wins since 1900.

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