Local players selected for Big 33; Pagac still winning
Pennsylvania's annual high school football summer showcase will shift its focus from Ohio to Maryland.
The Big 33 Scholarship Foundation recently announced a new agreement to pit Pennsylvania's top prep talent against the best Maryland has to offer.
For the last 19 years, the all-star contest has featured squads from Pennsylvania and Ohio. Pennsylvania and Maryland previously met eight times between 1985 and 1992.
The annual contest is staged in Hershey. Big 33 officials cited the game's proximity to Maryland as a contributing factor in the decision to renew the rivalry.
This summer's Big 33 game is scheduled June 15. In its 56-year history, the game has also featured matchups with all-star teams from Texas and a Pennsylvania vs. the USA format.
Three local players named to Pennsylvania's roster are Belle Vernon Area High School's Dorian Johnson and Clairton High School's Tyler Boyd and Titus Howard, who will all play football for the University of Pittsburgh.
Johnson, an imposing 6-foot-6-inch, 285-pound offensive lineman, is the eighth Leopard to receive this honor and the first since Jonathan Fowler in 2003.
Boyd, a versatile multi-positional threat, will play wide receiver in college. He and Howard helped Clairton win a fifth straight WPIAL Class A and fourth straight PIAA Class A championship this past fall as the Golden Bears increased their state-best win streak to 63 games.
Pagac, Vikings winning
It is no surprise that Beth Center High School's football team enjoyed a successful 2012 football season which culminated with a Tri-County South Conference championship and 10th consecutive appearance in the WPIAL Class A playoffs.
Also not surprising is the fact that Beth Center High School graduate and Richeyville native Fred Pagac was again part of a winning team.
Pagac completed his 35th year of coaching and 12th at the National Football League level. This season he served as the Minnesota Vikings' linebackers coach after serving as the team's defensive coordinator in 2011.
He served as Minnesota's linebackers coach from 2006 through the first 10 games of 2010. He assumed the defensive coordinator duties when the Vikings replaced head coach Brad Childress with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
Despite not achieving the team success they hoped for, the 2011 Vikings tied for the NFL lead with 50 team sacks. All-Pro tackle Jared Allen accounted for 22 of those sacks.
In 2012 the Vikings qualified for the National Football Conference playoffs for the first time in three years after compiling a 10-6 overall record and finishing second in the NFC North Division.
Outside linebacker Chad Greenway was one of five Vikings selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl.
Pagac previously held the role of defensive coordinator at his collegiate alma mater, Ohio State University, from 1996 through 1999. He was Ohio State's assistant head coach in 2000 and began coaching there in 1978.
He began coaching in the National Football League in 2001 and was the Oakland Raiders' linebackers' coach for three seasons. He then spent two years as an assistant coach with the Kansas City Chiefs before joining Minnesota.
As a player and coach, Pagac was part of six Rose Bowls with the Buckeyes. He was among five finalists for the Frank Broyles Award as the NCAA's top assistant in 1998.
He was a three-year starting tight end for Ohio State from 1971-73 and was part of Buckeyes teams that compiled an impressive 25-6-2 record over his playing career, including a 19-3 mark in the Big Ten Conference. During his 1973 senior season, the Buckeyes went 10-0-1 and finished second in the ﬁnal Associated Press Top 20 poll.
Pagac played one season each with the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL. As a rookie free-agent in 1974 he received the Bears' prestigious Brian Piccolo Award.
Bruce Wald is a freelance writer.