Guido: Big 33/Super Bowl streak continues another year
The remarkable streak of Big 33 game alumni playing in the Super Bowl will continue.
All 47 Super Bowls will have had at least one former Big 33 player when the Ravens and the 49ers square off for the Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 3 in New Orleans.
Ravens rookie guard Gino Gradkowski, a Seton-La Salle High School graduate, and 49ers return man/wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. are alumni of the Big 33, an annual all-star game in Hershey pitting the top players from Pennsylvania against the stars from Ohio.
Gradkowski, perhaps not as well known as his older brother and Bengals backup quarterback Bruce, was at West Virginia before transferring to Delaware. He played in the 2007 Big 33 game.
Ginn Jr. was the Ohio MVP in the 2004 Big 33 contest. The former standout from Cleveland's Glenville High School went to Ohio State and soon became a favorite of broadcaster Brent Musberger.
A Big 33 alum who won't be suiting up on Super Sunday is injured 49ers receiver Mario Manningham, who represented Warren (Ohio) in '04.
Local players involved in the Big 33/Super Bowl streak are Freeport's Eric Ravotti and Jeff Christy, along with the late Mitch Frerotte of Kittanning.
Beginning this June, it will be Pennsylvania against Maryland in the Big 33.
Recently, Ohio was sending its better players to an all-star game based in the Buckeye State, thus causing Big 33 officials to go in a different direction.
It will be interesting to see how long the Big 33/Super Bowl streak can go on since Maryland produces fewer NFL players than Ohio.
And the (grand) son will rise
One of the top high school football players in Texas has local ties.
Brandon Simmons, defensive back at Timberview High School near Arlington, is the grandson of Valley High School basketball great B.B. Flenory.
His father, Kshawn, and his uncle, B.J. Flenory, run football camps in the Dallas area.
Simmons, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior, is being scouted by at least 35 colleges. LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, UCLA, Notre Dame and Stanford are among schools that have offered scholarships.
Pitt recently started to show interest in Simmons, who already has been chosen to play in next year's U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
B.B. Flenory was part of some great Valley teams in the 1970s. A Parade All-American, he later made his mark at Duquesne University and has been inducted into numerous halls of fame, including the A-K Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
“Brandon has a grade point average of 4.4 taking college prep courses, and I am prouder of him academically than athletically,” B.B. Flenory said.
George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.