Big 33 Football Classic Preview
"It means a lot to get selected because I know how big the foundation is and how well-known this game is around the country," Amir Fenwick (LB, Frederick Douglass-PG) said. "I know that only the best players are here to play and I feel grateful to be a part of this. Team Maryland is excellent because everyone on the team is good. Everyone has talent and will play at their top potential."
John Gallina, offensive lineman from Bel Air, agrees.
"It's a big honor to be selected as one of the 34 players in Maryland to play on the team," Gallina said. "There are a lot of players in Maryland, so to be selected to represent the whole state is an honor."
If it is one area of the game that Team Maryland expects to use to their advantage, it is their speed. By design, the coaching staff tried to create a team that would be able to outrun Pennsylvania, who traditionally picks bigger players.
"Team Maryland is very talented, very fast and very athletic," Team Maryland assistant coach Mike Neubeiser (Northwest) said. "We tried to pick a fast team that could really run both offensively and defensively."
The two teams have gathered in southern Pennsylvania for a week of practices, trying to quickly learn their plays.
"Practices are tough considering the fact that we just got off six months of not playing. It's also been really hot," Diondre Wallace (LB, Arundel) said. "As far as the playbook, we're all focused, studying and not afraid to ask the coaches questions. It hasn't been too tough to pick everything up."
The specific rules of the game make it so that there should be a lot of points scored. Defenses have regulations on what kind of defenses they can play, like needing to be in a 4-3 and play zero coverage. The offense is required to throw the ball at least 40% of the time, ensuring that the game will be open and not a tight affair.
"On offense, I think it's tough to put in an offense in one week. So I think that part of it is more difficult," Neubeiser said. "But the kids have been really high-spirited and focused. They're intelligent football players so it's made it easier for the coaches.
Neubeiser should know the difficulties the players are going through- he played in the Big 33 Classic as a player in 1990, right after he graduated from Gaithersburg High School.
"Being here as a coach makes me feel like I am getting old, but it's neat to see it from a different perspective," Neubeiser said. "When you're a player you just kind of take it all in, but you don't see it from a broader perspective. As a coach, you see a lot of the tradition involved in it. You see the bigger aspect of it, the state aspect of it in terms of it being Maryland against Pennsylvania, so it has been a neat experience."
Looking ahead, there is a lot of desire to win for both teams, even though the game is a showcase.
"Both teams are just amped up to play because they know that there will be a winner, and a loser on Saturday," Fenwick said. "And everyone wants to win."
The game promises to be a spectacle that should not be missed.
"You will see talent shining from everywhere because everyone on both teams is good, there are no weak spots," Fenwick said. "If you weren't a good football player, then you would not be here. If you love football, it'll be a good show."
|June 18th, 2015||By: Wick Eisenberg|