PSFCA players highly regarded

The Big 33 Football Classic annually showcases some of Pennsylvania and Maryland’s top high school football talent.

But the Pennsylvania State Football Coaches Association’s East-West All-Star Game isn’t far behind.

In fact, Hollidaysburg Area High School football coach Homer DeLattre, who has served as the PSFCA East-West All-Star Game’s director for the past eight years, thinks that the game is on practically equal footing with the Big 33.

The 18th PSFCA All-Star Game will be played Sunday at 2 p.m. at Mansion Park, where the East-West series originated with the first game back in 2001.

“The Big 33 has the top 34 players in the state,” DeLattre said. “But there’s not much difference between (the players) in the Big 33 and these players. These players are really good football players and highly recruited kids.”

In fact, players who have a good showing in the PSFCA East-West All-Star Game can earn the opportunity to be chosen as alternates for the Pennsylvania team in the Big 33 Classic, which will be played on Memorial Day, May 27 on Central Dauphin High School’s Landis Field in Harrisburg.

“This (East-West Game) gives these kids who don’t make the Big 33 Game a chance to be picked for the Big 33 Game as an alternate, if they have a great game (at the East-West Game),” DeLattre said. “This game is a good opportunity for the players to showcase their abilities.”

The East-West Game will be played at Mansion Park for the third year in a row, after alternating at sites in the eastern and western parts of the state from 2012 to 2016.

“This (Mansion Park) is where the game started, and the game is being played there for the third year in a row,” DeLattre said. “The game was there for the first 10 years, and it’s nice to be able to bring it back to the center of the state where it started.”

Hollidaysburg senior Josh Howells and his twin brother, Nathan, will both be on the West team’s offensive line in the game.

Josh, a three-year starter at offensive guard for the Golden Tigers, is excited that the game will again be played at Mansion Park.

“With it being really close to home, we’ll have a lot of support,” Josh said. “My family and friends will be coming, and I know that from talking to people around school, there will be a lot of people there to support us, which makes it special.”

Gates will open at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, and tickets can be purchased at Mansion Park on the day of the game for $6 by adults and $3 by students.

DeLattre doesn’t expect a sellout crowd at Mansion, but he does expect a good crowd.

“The crowds have been good at Mansion Park — better than when we had the game at Pittsburgh and Downingtown,” DeLattre said. “We’ll only have a couple thousand people, but that’s fine. We’ll be getting people here from Philadelphia to Erie to Scranton, and hopefully local people will come out to watch as well. It will be nice to see a good crowd here to support the game. The goal is to try to keep it here.”

The East has won 10 of the first 17 games with the West. DeLattre pointed out that this year’s game will not be aired on television or online.

“There is a lot of high-quality talent on both sides,” DeLattre said. “The teams are pretty equal.”