East-West game gives 16 WPIAL football players 1 last go-round
By: Chris Harlan
Saturday, May 4, 2019 | 7:03 PM
May isn’t typical football season in Western Pennsylvania, but it is for 68 seniors from across the state who will gather Sunday in Altoona.
Rather than spend their spring weekends relaxing in the sun or getting ready for graduation, they have chosen to take part in the PSFCA East-West all-star game.
For that, they should be commended, said Seneca Valley football coach Ron Butschle, an assistant on the West coaching staff.
“As high school seniors with proms and everything else, these kids have more going on than you or I ever did when we were at that age,” said Butschle, part of a coaching staff that organized four practices and a walk-through. “There are so many other (all-star games) out there, but I think it’s important to keep the Big 33 and the East-West rolling.”
The Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association organizes both all-star games. The East-West kickoff is 2 p.m. Sunday at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona.
The 34-player West roster includes 16 from the WPIAL: Woodland Hills’ Jayden Lucas, Anthony Bullock-Merideth and Michael Roman, McKeesport’s Konota Gaskins and Dylan Vaniel, Shaler’s Brennan Fugh and Jeffrey Bonnette, Yough’s Dustin Shoaf, Kiski Area’s Jack Collecchi, Penn Hills’ Armand Gustave, North Hills’ Tyler Brennan, Central Catholic’s Dom Dodson, Pine-Richland’s Anthony Cerminara and Michael Dorundo, Canon-McMillan’s Riley Noble and South Fayette’s Tom Elia.
Penn Hills coach Jon LeDonne is also an assistant.
“It’s fun to coach some different kids — and kids that you coached against,” said Butschle, who is leading the team’s offensive line.
The West’s center is Dorundo, whom Butschle saw plenty of last season. Pine-Richland defeated conference rival Seneca Valley in the WPIAL Class 6A finals. The West line also includes WPIAL standouts Elia and Noble.
Along with the rosters, East-West organizers compiled a list of players selected for the game but who declined their invitation for various reasons. The intent was to recognize all players selected.
But with 48 players on that “declined” list, it demonstrates the challenge all-star football games face. Nonetheless, the East-West will be held for the eighth year in a row and the 17th time in 18 years.
“I think the tradition with the Big 33 and the East-West is great,” Butschle said. “Now you have all of these offshoot all-star games that I don’t even know much about, but the kids who were selected for this game are all quality kids.”
Clarion coach Larry Wiser is leading the West staff. Susquehanna Township’s Joe Headen leads an East roster that features Lower Merion’s Matt O’Connor (Villanova) and Bishop McDevitt’s Chase Diehl (Duquesne) at quarterback. Quarterbacking the West are Williamsport’s Joe Fagnano (Maine) and State College’s Tommy Friberg (Penn State).
The East leads the series 10-7. However, the West has won three of the past four including 28-25 last year.
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .