Honors, despite loss, for local players

ALTOONA – The South came out on the short end of a 24-7 game to the North at the 30th annual Lezzer Lumber All-Star Football Classic, but nine local athletes made their presence known despite the loss.

And a few of them came up winners despite the game score.

Mifflin County standout John Michael Maclay finished with four tackles and a key interception in the end zone to kill a North drive. For his efforts, Maclay won South Defensive MVP honors.

“I wish the score would have been a little different, but I’m happy I got the MVP award,” Maclay said. “There are a lot of other guys on the team who could have won this too. We played well on defense. Our offense struggled a bit, but it was fun playing with all these guys for the past week.

“We turned the ball over way too much and gave them too many opportunities, but it was fun time and I really enjoyed myself. (Hayden) Snook played well at center. He made all the line calls. (Kyle Bargo) was great on the D-Line. He had a sweet sack and (Kyle) Kahley blocked well on offense and ran the ball hard. It was fun playing with them one last time.”

The South managed to avoid the shutout with 5:52 left in the game when QB Austin McMonagle (Williamsburg) tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Bradi Moore (Central) to make it 24-7. Moore won the South Offensive MVP award.

Mifflin County and South coach George Miskinis fell into tough luck early in the first when starting running back and backup quarterback Austin Cunningham suffered a knee injury. The injury, coupled with seven turnovers (five interceptions, two fumbles), sealed the South’s fate.

“We tried to work some things with jet motion and jet pass and when we lost Austin right away, that took a big chunk out of what we were going to do,” Miskinis said. “We lost a weapon in more ways than one. The North did a great job with their pass rush and we weren’t big enough to hold them out. It’s all part of the game and we just didn’t execute when we needed to. We had fun and that’s what it’s all about. All the kids played with a lot of heart and passion.”

“Defensively, we did a good job. The turnovers gave them real good field position, but our defense didn’t really give up much. Our kids (Mifflin County) showed what kind of heart and drive they have. I’m going to miss these guys. We are sad to see them go but the nice thing is they aren’t going too far away and I can see them play at the next level.”

Mount Union Trojans Dylan Smith, Klayton Heffner, Philip Kyle, Zach Clemens and Seth Rogers also were in the game.

“It was fun working with these all-star group of kids and getting to know them and see them come together. It was a very enjoyable experience and I’m glad I did it,” said Mount Union coach Matt Young, who coached the South defensive backs. “We made some mistakes, gave them some short fields. Overall, I thought the kids did well. We held them pretty well on defense.

“I was very pleased with all the Mount Union kids. They practiced hard all week and gave us everything they had. They put the work in and did a real good job.”

Heffner got in the boxscore, catching one pass for 32 yards.

“I felt good. The quarterback threw a pretty good strike. This is a fun game. You can’t ask for a better bunch of kids to play with,” Heffner said. “It’s an all-star game and everybody here is good. My Mount Union teammates all did a real good job tonight.”

Bargo finished the contest with four tackles and a sack. The Juniata College recruit was a recipient of a $500 scholarship after the game.

“We had a whole week to prepare for this. We knew it was our last high school game and it was our last time to show everyone what we’ve got. We were going against some kids who are going to be playing with us at Juniata, so that was a nice experience,” he said. “I wrote a good essay. It took me 20 minutes and I got down all my credentials. It’s was nice to win the scholarship. Every little bit helps. It’s been a great experience. To end your high school career on the field where we won districts is a great feeling.”

The North opened up a 21-0 first half lead and never looked back. Penns Valley’s Cameron Tobias threw two touchdown passes, a 14-yarder to Damien Slike (Clarion) and a 13-yard strike to Cody Hearst (Clarion). Slike also scored from a yard out.

The North victory evened the all-time series at 15-15. The South managed only 11 yards rushing in the game and 142 yards total. The North finished with 356 total yards and a 164 on the ground.

Offensive MVP for the North went to Tobias, while Clearfield’s Tyler Stratton won the Defensive MVP.