TJ gridders Winovich, Costy enamored by Big 33 berths
Two integral members of the 2013 Thomas Jefferson football squad — seniors Chase Winovich and Cole Costy — have been selected to participate in this year's Big 33 Football Classic.
Both will play for the Pennsylvania all-star team, Winovich as a 6-foot-4, 220-pound linebacker and Costy as a 6-2, 270-pound offensive lineman.
It is not the first time two players from the same TJ football team have been selected for the Big 33 game. Dom DeCicco and Chris Drager were selected for the 2007 contest, then went on to distinguished college careers at Pitt and Virginia Tech.
Other recent TJ gridders selected for the game include Brock DeCicco, Nate Nix, Lucas Nix, Brad Dawson, Tyler Reed and Michael Wainauskas.
“It's an honor to be selected for the Big 33 game. There have been so many big-time players who have played in it and represented Pennsylvania,” Winovich said. “There have been some great football players, and it makes you realize how blessed I really am.
“When I started working out as a freshman, I thought about what I wanted to achieve in my high school career, and down the road I thought playing in the Big 33 game would be an awesome achievement. I thought it would be cool (to play in the Big 33 game). I heard so much about it growing up and the history of it. And now I get to represent my team, and I get to play with another teammate at the game. It's a great accomplishment in my life.”
Costy echoed Winovich's sentiments.
“It's a pretty good honor to be selected,” Costy said. “Playing football at TJ, we're like a huge family. There have been other players at TJ who played in that game and went on to be successful. Hopefully, I can follow in their footsteps.
“Overall, it's an honor to be picked and to play in that game. I know (back) when I was in middle school, that it was a big deal to me. I'm super-pumped about it.”
The 57th annual Big 33 Football Classic all-star game will take place June 15 at Hersheypark Stadium.
Fifteen players from the WPIAL ranks have been named to represent Pennsylvania.
Winovich and Costy will be joined by Central Catholic's J.J. Cosentino (QB), Niko Thorpe (LB) and Tre Tarpley (DB); Aliquippa's Dravon Henry (RB) and Terry Swanson (RB); Gateway's Montae Nicholson (WR) and Anthony Davis (DB); Mt. Lebanon's Troy Apke (WR) and Alex Bookser (DL); Sto-Rox's Lenny Williams (QB), Bethel Park's Mike Grimm (OL), Upper St. Clair's Ben Huss (OL) and McKeesport's Jawan Hill (DL).
Winovich, a Michigan recruit, was one of four linebackers chosen for the game, along with Thorpe, Franklin Zaire of LaSalle College High School and Tyree Spearman of Erie McDowell.
Winovich is anxious to begin his college career in Ann Arbor following the Big 33 game. Michigan is a member of the Big Ten Conference.
“Choosing Michigan over great schools like Pitt, Stanford, and Ohio State was definitely not an easy task,” he said. “It really came down to where I felt most comfortable and where I had the best opportunity to excel.”
Michigan's head coach is Brady Hoke, who is in his fourth year as the Wolverines' field boss.
“Chase, out of the Pittsburgh area, is a guy who we think runs really well,” Hoke said. “He played a lot of positions and made a ton of plays at Thomas Jefferson. He played some quarterback, ran the ball at times, played some tight end, but we think he's a guy who's really instinctive and gets to the football at linebacker.
“Chase is a guy who's really athletic. It will be interesting to watch him play. He's a very good athlete with good length. He'll remind you a little bit of Jake (Ryan), that type of body type.”
The Big 33 Classic won't be Winovich's first appearance in an all-star game.
Winovich participated in the 2014 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl held at Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla. earlier this year. He had five tackles and forced one fumble on a sack.
“The game was played with a 45 degree temperature before the wind chill, but it went really well,” Winovich said. “I was so fortunate to be able to represent my city, my team and my family at such a prestigious event. And on top of that, I had so much fun and got the opportunity to meet and interact with a lot of great players and coaches.”
Costy is one of six offensive lineman chosen for the game, along with Grimm, Huss, Noah Beh of Scranton Prep and Josh Walmer of Parkland.
Council's Rock South's Eric Gallo is the only center listed on the Pennsylvania team roster.
Costy has accepted an offer to continue his football career at Youngstown State, and recently signed with the Penguins, who compete in Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Youngstown State's head coach is Eric Wolford, who is in his fifth year as field boss.
“Youngstown State plays a high level of football. I wanted to play in college at the highest level as possible,” Costy said. “I got along great with the coaches. The first time I went to visit (Youngstown State), it just kind of clicked for me.”
Costy, like Winovich, earned several individual accolades during his high school football career.
Pennsylvania's all-stars will face a team from Maryland in this year's Big 33 Football Classic game.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.