Big 33 Football Classic alums to compete in Super Bowl for 52nd straight year

Monday, January 22, 2018 | 8:06 PM

For the 52nd year in a row, the Big 33 Football Classic and the Super Bowl remain linked.

Every Super Bowl matchup has included at least one former player from the high school football all-star game, a tradition that will continue this year with Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer. The Cleveland native played for Ohio in 2004.

Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich also played in the Big 33 in 1980.

“We managed to get through another year,” said Garry Cathell, executive director of the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association, which organized the all-star game. “To be able to look at the four (semifinalist) teams and we still had players on three of them, (that says) we still have a lot of good players that play in the game.”

Eagles lineman and Central Catholic graduate Stefen Wisniewski was selected for the Big 33 roster in 2007 but did not participate.

The Big 33 streak started with Philadelphia native Herb Adderley, a member of the Green Bay Packers for Super Bowl I and II. Adderley, who attended Northeast High School, took part in the first Big 33 in 1957. Beaver Falls native Joe Namath played in the Big 33 in 1961 and Super Bowl III a few years later, advancing a half-century streak that will continue Feb. 4 with Super Bowl LII.

Among the Big 33 alumni on recent Super Bowl rosters was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who chosen as an Ohio all-star in 2000.

The Big 33 game has had varying formats over the years, most often matching a team of Pennsylvania all-stars against standouts from a neighboring state. In recent years, Pennsylvania has faced Maryland.

This year's Big 33 game is June 16 at Landis Field near Harrisburg.

The PSFCA committee met Friday night to select players for this year's game. Rosters are expected to be announced Feb. 5, Cathell said. Some players already were notified, including Bethel Park lineman James Gmiter, who announced his selection on Twitter.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

NOTE: This story was update to remove a reference to Eagles linebacker Najee Goode playing in the Big 33 Football Classic.


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