HERSHEY, Pa. — In spite of sweltering summer weather, topping out in the upper 90s, practice was in full swing this weekend in Hershey as players and coaches geared up for the 51st edition of the Big 33 Football Classic.
The Big 33 has long served as a showcase for the best talent Pennsylvania and Ohio have to offer. It seems like just yesterday when Paul Posluszny and Sean Lee left their marks on the game, and Penn State has traditionally been the college choice of many players selected for the Big 33 classic.
This year, Penn State is represented by six players on the Pennsylvania squad,including defensive linemen Pete Massaro, Brandon Ware, Mark Wedderburn and Matt Stankeiwitch, linebacker Mike Yancich, and walk on kicker David Soldner. The Nittany Lions are also represented on the Ohio side of the line by legacy linebacker Michael Zordich.
The Pennsylvania team is coached this year by Jim Morgans of Parkland HS. As of Monday evening the defense, led by the strong line, is ahead of the offense. However the offense, led by Parkland quarterback John Laub and Pittsburgh Central Catholic product Tino Sunseri, seems to be in sync. Sunseri is destined for Pitt, along with several other members of the Pennsylvania squad including Jonathan Baldwin and Mike Shanahan, a polished pair of receivers who will help Pitt to take the pressure off tailback LeSean McCoy.
The Pennsylvania talent level appears to be quite good, and the secondary matched up well with the Keystone State receivers, although Baldwin stood out. Temple bound WR Vaughn Carraway played some corner during the evening session, and even at 170 lbs was a real problem for the Pennsylvania receivers. He looks to be a good pickup for the Owls.
During the afternoon session, gasps rose from the gathered crowd as Yancich was sandwiched between two players and came off the field holding his elbow. Yancich sat out the remainder of the afternoon and the evening session with his left arm in a sling and his elbow on ice. The training staff reported that they are moderately concerned, as Yancich hyperextended the elbow, and they will be evaluating the potential for collateral ligament damage.
It has been several years since Penn State has been so well represented at the Big 33 game. Tomorrow we will take a look back at the last Pennsylvania squad that fielded six future Nittany Lions, and take a look at what became of them. That class featured arguably one of the greatest Penn Staters ever to play in Posluszny. Also tomorrow we will begin our annual interview series with the Penn Staters of the Big 33.
Keep checking in with FightOnState.com all week, your home for the latest news and information from the Big 33 leading up to kickoff from Hersheypark Stadium at 7:30 PM Saturday