Gateway’s Holl looks forward to coaching in East-West all-star game

Sunday, February 28, 2021 | 9:01 AM

For the first time in the nearly two decades of the Pennsylvania State Football Coaches Association’s East-West Classic, there will be two games celebrating many of the state’s top players.

One game will involve the smaller schools — Classes A-3A — with the other featuring talent from Classes 4A-6A.

Gateway coach Don Holl will front the coaching staff for the West squad in the big-school game, marking the third time in his high school coaching career he’s walked the sideline for an all-star contest.

Holl said he’s grateful for the opportunity to be involved with the Memorial Day weekend events.

“I find it very humbling and flattering to be selected to coach in this great game,” said Holl, who coached as an assistant in the 2007 East-West game and was the offensive coordinator for the Pennsylvania team in the 2012 Big 33 Classic.

“There are so many great coaches in this association,” Holl said.

“The coaches around the state and the association always do such a great job with the game. It’s neat to be a part of it and coach a lot of the great kids we (Gateway) played against and those others from the Western part of the state. It’s a great celebration and showcase of their talents. It is something I am super excited about.”

The East-West Classic, first played in 2001, pits all-stars from the Eastern part of Pennsylvania against their counterparts from the West. The East produced a 10-8 advantage over the West in single games played through 2019.

The two games this year will be May 30, at Central Dauphin’s Landis Field. The small-school game will be at noon, followed by the big-school game at about 4 p.m.

They are part of a two-day football festival, as the Big 33 Classic will be May 31, also at Central Dauphin.

Covid concerns canceled last year’s games.

“I think it’s a great idea to expand (East-West) to two games, as it gives more deserving kids an opportunity to play,” Holl said.

“We’re going to showcase it all in one weekend. Having it on Memorial Day weekend adjusts it to the college schedule where a lot of guys would typically report to their colleges in June. In the past, we would lose a lot of those guys because of that. Moving the games earlier allows as many as possible to play.”

Holl said he is excited to have 20 WPIAL players join the West team. Latrobe’s Jason Marucco will serve as an assistant coach.

North Allegheny leads the way with three players — defensive backs Josh Humphries and Mason Kress and linebacker Nathan Hoke — while WPIAL and PIAA champion Thomas Jefferson landed two players on the team — quarterback Jake Pugh and wide receiver Ian Hansen.

Greater Allegheny Conference (Class 4A) champion Plum will be represented by offensive lineman Evan Azzara and linebacker Max Matolcsy.

Also on the team from the WPIAL are Woodland Hills defensive lineman Sevon Givner and athlete T’Rek Scipio, Penn Hills offensive lineman Claude Vangelus and defensive back Noel Roach, Seneca Valley offensive lineman Jim Royal and defensive end Josh Miller, Norwin offensive lineman Anthony Giansante and defensive end Tanner Krevokuch, Penn-Trafford wide receiver Ethan Carr, Hampton defensive lineman Dawson Dietz, Montour defensive back Jaiden Hill, Pine-Richland punter Tony Nicassio and Upper St. Clair long snapper Tyler Reiger.

“It’s always fun to watch talented players perform in a game we love to coach,” said Holl, who led Gateway in a covid-shortened 2020 season to a 5-1 record and a spot in the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals.

“It also is a unique challenge as coaches to get (the players) all on the same page and doing something cohesively and well in a short amount of practice time. We will have two full practice days here at Gateway where we will do some film stuff and be able to do a lot on the field.

“It’s also a challenge to properly highlight and feature all of those guys and give them an opportunity to do what they do best. You want to find ways to get the ball to the playmakers and make sure your defensive splash players are in position to make those kinds of plays, too.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .


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