Heavy mid-Mon Valley flavor on South squad for all-star football game
The South All-Stars in the 17th annual BeeGraphix Football Classic will have a distinct area flavor when the game kicks off Saturday at Southmoreland.
That's because of the 33 players on the team composed of graduated high school seniors, nearly a third of them come from mid-Mon Valley schools.
Consequently, just four of the players on the North Al-Stars are from area schools.
The game will kick off 7 p.m. at Southmoreland with halftime festivities including the induction of the Class of 2013 for the Tri-County Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
The T-C Football Coaches Association puts the game together each year.
Local players on the South team, which is practicing at California Area High this week through Thursday, include Ringgold's Joe Wall, Demetrius Louis, Austin Young, Matt Devenney and Jeremy Saternos; Monessen's R.J. Small, Keith Davis and Pete Tarka, Belle Vernon Area's Collin Woss and California's Patrick Short.
Playing for the North team, which is practicing daily at Bethel Park, includes Frazier's Jaime Fell and Justin Kulwicki and Bentworth's Dylan Morrell and Tanner Severns.
Game director Cody Haiden says that the T-C Coaches Association has a formula for determining who plays on a team.
“It depends on the school the players attended. We try to use geography, as well as the size of the schools, so we can have pretty much the same overall enrollment on each team to keep it fair,” Haiden said. “We also try to have roughly 30 players or so on each team.”
The teams will move their practices to the site of the game - Southmoreland - on Friday before going to the Classic's banquet that night at Hugo's in Centerville.
The BeeGraphix Classic is one of the longer continuous high school all-star games in western Pennsylvania and Haiden says he thinks it is important to give graduated seniors in the region one last chance to put on a uniform before they head off to college.
“Many of our players have already committed to colleges to play, but some are still undecided and this will give them a chance to get another look,” he said. “There will be college coaches at the game.
“It's an honor to be nominated by the coaches and it is a showcase for the kids, who really seem to enjoy it. College coaches request our rosters in advance in case some of their kids are playing so they can come see them.”
Head coaches for the game are Carmicheals' John Menhart (South) and South Park's Tom Loughran (North).
Haiden said that the T-C Coaches Association also provides a $500 scholarship to one player from each team. The scholarship winners are announced after the game and are determined through judging essays that the players write.
In addition, there will be offensive and defensive Most Valuable Players chosen from each team after the game. The MVPs will all receive plaques.
Tickets for the game are $5 and will be sold at the gate on Saturday.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.