Leonard Wilson, Adam Martin play in East West All Star Football Game

Prior to the inaugural East West All Star Football Game in 2001, the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association (PSFCA) noticed that there was an abundance of talent in the state, more than could possibly be showcased in one game. The Big 33 was the only state-wide contest that was played at that time.
The PSFCA contacted the Allegheny Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau with the idea of another all star game that would provide national exposure for even more of the state’s talented athletes.
“The talent pool of football players in Pennsylvania is excellent,” explained Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes, who served as Game Director and is a past PSFCA president. “Their are a lot of great football players throughout the state. Through the course of the year, obviously, the kids from the bigger schools, the recognized reputations of going to Division I colleges, stand out in the eyes of the media, which then passes that on to the average fan. When you look into it, there are a lot of great players that can step in. Maybe their exposure wasn’t there, maybe their haven’t had the chance to play in the spotlight that some of the bigger school kids have had. But we have a lot of excellent talent here in place.”
The spotlight for much of the game was on defense on Saturday night at Mansion Park in the sixth installment of the Eat West All Star Football Game as both offenses found the going pretty tough. The East won for the fifth time in six contests 20-14.
The defense for the West came up big first, after the West offense had been forced to punt on their first three possessions State College grad Justin Masorti rumbled 56 yards for the first touchdown of the game after his fellow defensive mates had stripped the ball from East fullback Ian Carpenter. Before an estimated 2,500 fans, Stephen Blose (Harbor Creek) kicked the PAT for a 7-0 West lead with 47 seconds to play in the opening quarter. Despite their 7-0 lead, the West offense had a -2 yards total offense at that point.
It didn’t take long for the East to counter that score. On a second and 10, Hempfield quarterback Michael Callahan found Graham Zug (Manheim Central) for a 44-yard TD pass. Will Byrne’s (Susquehanna Township) extra point tied the game at the 10:37 mark of the second quarter capping a four-play drive.
With Tyrone quarterback Leonard Wilson inserted into the game, the West moved to the East-33, largely on the back of a 35-yard completion from Wilson to Cathedral Prep’s Javon Rowan. Blose was short on a 50-yard field goal attempt however.
Wilson was a late addition to the West squad following an injury to Central York quarterback Eric Schwartz and never really got into the offense.
“I was happy to get the chance to play,” said Wilson, who will play football at Bucknell University. “I understand (about the lack of playing time). I was only there for three practices, so I understand on the coaches part. I had fun, but I would have liked to have played a little more.”
The East came right back with a score of their own, marching 80 yards in eight plays for to take the lead for the first time. A tough run of 21 yards around right end by tailback Brent Carter (Pottsgrove) capped the series. The PAT by Byrne with 4:19 to play, gave the East a 14-7 margin at halftime.
State College quarterback Ben Ganter, who got most of the snaps, guided the West to a tying score on the opening series of the third quarter. Layton Dunn (Duquesne) got most of the yardage, rushing for 31 yards, and Red Land’s Luke Cox bulled one yard for the TD. Blose ties the game, but that would be the final score for the West, whose only victory in the series was a 14-10 triumph in 2003.
The East struck quickly following the Cox score. Callahan found a wide-open Brad Walter (Easton) for a 68-yard touchdown. With a 20-14 advantage, Bryne’s kick was blocked.
“I didn’t think they were much better than us,” said Bellwood-Antis defensive lineman Adam Martin. “The only problems, I think, we had, were the big bombs they threw for touchdowns. I feel our defense did the job except for those few big plays. They couldn’t drive on us.
“This week’s practice really got us prepared,” said Martin, who along with Wilson also played in last week’s Lezzer Lumber Classic. “I was really proud of our defense, I thought we did well.” Martin will play football at Shippensburg University in the fall.
The West had the ball twice in the final nine minutes, the final time with just 11 seconds remaining, but the game ended with the East’s fifth win in the series 20-14.
“You couldn’t have asked for a more exciting game,” said Hayes. “The team that was behind got the ball with two and half minutes to go with a chance to tie of go ahead. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t make that happen, but it kept the people here until the end of the football games.
“This game was very competitive, there were a lot of great plays and almost-great plays, defensive reactions and breakups. It was really a good football game. All the guys play to win, they are all competitors, that’s part of why they are that good, but it’s too bad when you bring all this talent together that one-half of them has to go home disappointed. They are gracious, but don’t like to lose. Tomorrow the sun will come up and they can start thinking about their careers, going on to school and where their next steps will take them.”