Good Tuesday everyone.
Yes, it is July 11th on the calendar and I promised you all, I’d be back with a vengeance after Media Day for the 83rd Scranton Lions Club Dream Game.
This event is always nice for me, because this is the first time I have seen a lot of the high school football players who I covered. It is also an opportunity for me to get back into the swing of what will now be an intense 12 months of work as the new scholastic sports season is upon us all.
We started by having a remote LIVE broadcast of IN THE ZONE on ESPN’s ESPN RADIO from Media Day. Many thanks to Mark Hoover and Dave Mehall for setting this up. It was a new addition to the coverage that I hope we will continue. If you didn’t know, this year marks the 15th year for In the Zone. I guess that makes me a radio personality?
We had Abington Heights graduate Colin McCreary, Scranton Prep’s Jake Ryan and Scranton’s Jacob Watts as walk-up guests. It was a pretty good show, if I may say so, except that Dave had to stand the whole time. His knees were begging him to find a chair.
The players began filing in for their first collective meeting with teammates and coaches before practice begins today. One observation — these kids are huge. It is a different era of football for sure. They spend a lot of time in the weight room, while I spend too much time at the buffet.
They all gather and I hope get inspired by player liaison Jerry Preschutti. He is a legend and he still has a passion for high school football. He gets pumped up just thinking about what the Dream Game means. He starts getting charged up like the Ultimate Warrior hitting the ring. I know he comes from a different time, but at 74 years old, he has the energy of a young athlete. And if the players heard the excitement in his voice and saw the tight grin on his face, they would understand why this all-star classic has stood the test of time.
Having an appreciation of the past was the theme for the night. Coach Preschutti asked all of the players if they had family who played in the game. I saw only a few hands go up, so I thought, this might me a good time to point out the importance of the tradition of the Dream Game.
Then, I got hit with about a dozen players who had close connections to the game. Maybe they were just shy?
Jake Ryan had the creme de la creme when it came to a focus of the story. He brought a newspaper clipping from the fourth Dream Game played in 1938. This is gold for a story off a traditional Media Day. It’s funny, because I could never get the family lineage correct with Jake, so I put it in his hands to get it right. His great-grandfather C.J. Robson, the legendary coach at Scranton Central, was the coach for the City all-star team in December of 1938. Now, Jake would be playing for the City all-stars.
Now that’s an angle!
I always take photos of all of the kids. If they take the time to come to Media Day, I will take the time to make them important. In this process, I talked with the guys who had family ties to the game. Obviously, Jake Ryan did. So too did several others, including Abington Heights’ Corey Justave, West Scranton’s Austin Lipowitch and Shaun Fanning, Dunmore’s Colin Holmes, Riverside’s Bill Nash.
I wrote a lengthy story about it in today’s Times-Tribune, so pick up a copy. Christopher “Don’t call me Chris” Dolan perfectly added the best photos for the story. As I mentioned, the story got very in-depth. I informed our copy editor rookie Joe Baress that the story had grown far longer than I anticipated. He needed it shorter. So, of course, I had to do some surgery and some of the players who I spoke with were left on the cutting room floor. Oh, but through the magic of ON THE BLOG, they live.
Dunmore’s George Cole, will also be playing for the City. He remembers attending the game when his brother, Ryan, played in the 2009 game.
“It was fun to watch the game and see my brother in it and since then I have wanted to be a part of the Dream Game,” said Cole, who will play at Misericordia in the fall.
Lakeland’s Kevin Johnson is following in the footsteps of his father, Rob, who played in the 1989 game as a lineman from Mid Valley. He and his County teammates posted a 7-6 win over the City.
“He’s been thinking about (me playing) all year,” said Johnson, who was a Lackawanna Football Conference Division III all-star at tight end and defensive end for the Chiefs. “It was something he really liked. He always wanted me to have an opportunity to play in the Dream Game.”
Times-Tribune Defensive Player of the Year Ben Dial will represent North Pocono on the City roster. His brother, Brody, had three tackles for the City in a 41-7 win in the 2015 game.
“This is a great honor for our team and community, and for my family,” Dial said. “It was exciting seeing him play when he was here and I am looking forward to continuing the tradition.”
Susquehanna’s Jarred Mills will play at linebacker for the City. The same position his brother, Curtis, played in the 2014 game.
“He paved the way for me and he set the bar high,” Mills said of his brother. “We are always in competition, so I look forward to this challenge. It means so much to just be selected to represent Susquehanna.”
Not even you, Joe Baress, can stop my work from being seen!
Here is a video of the Media Day
There will be more stories in the coming days previewing the big game. Kickoff is set for July 19 at 7 p.m. at John Henzes/Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Make sure you pick up The Times-Tribune.
83rd Scranton Lions Club
Photos by Christopher Dolan