One last hurrah: Trio set for final football game

All-star high school football games in the summer provide a chance for some players to get on the gridiron one more time.

For others, it will be one final time.

“It’s a good experience for the players,” said Huntingdon coach Mike Hudy, who is serving as the head coach of the South All-Star Team in the 34th Annual Lezzer Lumber High School Football All-Star Classic, which will kick off Friday at 7 p.m. at Mansion Park. “For some of them, this may be the last game that they play.”

That will be the case for recently graduated seniors Braeden Burchfield of Altoona, Jack Sauserman of Hollidaysburg, and Jack Showalter of Bellwood-Antis — all of whom will be going on to college but none of whom will play football there.

“This game has been around for awhile, and it’s a pretty good deal to be able to participate in this game,” said the 6-foot, 190-pound Sauserman, who started on both sides of the line of scrimmage at wide receiver and safety for Hollidaysburg in his senior season.

Sauserman will be heading to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh as a student this fall, but since he won’t be playing football there, the Lezzer Classic will be his last game.

“It’s bittersweet, I guess,” Sauserman said. “It’s good to be back playing again, but it kind of sucks that this is the last one I’ll ever play.”

For the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Burchfield — a three-sport standout in football, basketball and baseball at Altoona — departing the football field for good after Friday night’s game will bring about some sadness.

“It’s pretty sad,” said Burchfield, who will attend Penn State’s main campus. “Football is obviously my favorite sport, and even when the high school season ended last year, I didn’t know what to do with myself — I was so used to putting the pads on every day.”

The 6-foot, 235-pound Showalter, a two-year, two-way starter at center and defensive tackle for Bellwood-Antis, will attend Lock Haven University in the fall. Showalter said that he was humbled to be picked to play in the Lezzer Classic.

“It’s a big deal for me,” Showalter said. “I honestly didn’t think that I was that good in football to be picked for this team. It feels pretty good. I thought that when we lost to Westmont Hilltop (in the District 6 Class 2A playoffs last November), that that would be my last football game. I think it’s pretty cool to be surrounded here by guys who are going to be playing at the next level.”

Friday’s game will be an all-star game, but players who are preparing for it all this week still want to win it.

“Hopefully, we can go out there and beat the North (All-Stars), and get the job done,” Showalter said.

Sauserman expects the game to be very competitive.

“I feel like it will be, especially playing with and against the best,” Sauserman said. “And there will be people on the other team that you might not like, and that will bring about an edge.”

Burchfield believes that competition is competition, no matter what form that it takes.

“Even though it’s an all-star game, kids want to win,” Burchfield said. “Just like me, some kids will be playing in their last game. Everybody wants to win.”

Lezzer Lumber All-Star Football Classic

Where: Mansion Park

Kickoff: Friday, 7 p.m.

Teams: South All-Stars (including players from Altoona, Bellwood-Antis, Bishop Guilfoyle, Central, Claysburg-Kimmel, Hollidaysburg, Tyrone, Williamsburg, Bishop Carroll, Huntingdon, Juniata Valley, Penn Cambria and Mount Union) vs. North All-Stars (including players from Glendale, Moshannon Valley, Philipsburg-Osceola, Clearfield, and State College).

Series history: The game began in 1985 as the Mid-State Classic. The South leads the all-time series, 17-16. The North won last season, 17-7.