The West was best on Saturday night at Mansion Park. The West team broke a three-game win streak by the East at Seventh Annual East West All-Star Game with a 24-14 victory.
West head coach John Franco, Tyrone High School head coach, set the tone early in the week when he informed his team members that they should be prepared to work hard. His young squad then went out took the lessons learned to take the lead and never relinquish it in the most complete subjection of the East in the seven-year series.
“We told the guys to be prepared to work hard during the week and we did work them very hard,” explained Franco. “This was not an easy week for them, but they bought into it. These guys are great football players and they know that hard work is what it takes in order to be successful.”
Local athletes and District Six players, often overlooked in the swing of summer all-star games, led the way to victory for the West. Hollidaysburg fullback Matt Wimbush scored a touchdown and bulled his way to a game-high 60 yards on nine carries. Johnstown Bishop McCort’s Scott Lewis, and wide receiver Andrew Kerr from State College, scored TDs. Altoona lineman Bron Clouser anchored a West offensive line that helped his team to 124 more running yards than the East could manage. Local product, Tyler Gillmen of Tyrone, a midweek addition when several of the original selections backed out, made his presence known with a tackle on a kickoff and a fumble recovery on a punt that led to the West’s final touchdown.
“It was a lot of fun to be called up, it shows that people are still respecting you” said Gillmen, who saw duty on a couple defensive series as a D-back and on special teams, where he did the most damage. “I didn’t expect to be playing, but I got a call Monday and came up to practice and we just bonded. It was easy.”
The West stopped the East squad on the first offensive series of the game and then used good field position as Wimbush finished off the first scoring drive, plunging four yards to get the West on the scoreboard.
An interception by Jared Williams of Perry Academy, gave the West the ball and then a reverse around the left side by Maurice Williams, an Erie Strong Vincent grad, who is headed for Pitt, for 33 yards to the East-2 set up a two-yard score by Lewis to give the West their biggest lead in the history of the East West series. Maurice Williams’ sister Mashea Williams is a junior who plays basketball for Penn State.
Vondre Griffin of Woodland Hills returned the second half kickoff 50 yards to the East-41, and Upper St. Clair place kicker Alexis Romanias booted a 42-yard field goal for a 17-0 West advantage. Romanias earlier had a 42-yard try go just right.
The East finally got their offense in gear, moving 70 yards in 12 plays in the third quarter for their first score. Wilson High School QB D. J. Lenehan completed two straight passes to Penn Wood High School’s Kamar Jordan, the second, a 24-yard touchdown strike. Jordan, who caught all of his seven passes for 142 yards in the second half, also grabbed a 17-yard TD pass from Lenehan, with 6:40 left in the game.
The East defense stopped the West and forced a punt later in the game, but the ball nicked an East player and Gillmen was there to recover at the West-49.
Maurice Williams rambled 36 yards down the right side with a screen pass from Cody Catalina, a Syracuse recruit, from Greensburg Central Catholic to set up a seven-yard TD strike from Catolina to Kerr, who is headed to Princeton in the fall.
If not for an East West rule that a team trailing by nine or more points can receive the kick following a score, the West may have built up an even larger margin.
Tyler Hoover, a Tyrone grad who will be playing football at IUP in the fall was an original selection for the West squad, but was injured in the Lezzer Lumber Classic at Hollidaysburg and was replaced by Wayne Jones of Bishop McCort.