By: Brian Fees | Towanda Daily Review | February 17, 2016 | Photo courtesy Brian Fees
Every year the Big 33 game draws the best high school players from throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
The alumni of the game include NFL stars like Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Orlando Pace and Marvin Harrison, who were inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame this year.
Two alumni of the game, Brandon McManus of the Denver Broncos and Ted Ginn Jr. of the Carolina Panthers, played in this year's Super Bowl.
This year the Big 33 game will have a local feel as one of the coaches from the game is Athens' Jack Young.
"It's a great opportunity," Young said. "From my days of coaching down at Hershey, to my dads' experience coaching at the game, it's just a neat opportunity. At Athens I get to coach tremendous kids, now I get the opportunity to coach the best in the state."
Young is one of five assistant coaches on the staff, with Downington East's Mike Matta serving as head coach.
The Athens coach is excited to see what he can learn from the experience.
"I have learned so much the last number of years coaching and even from my experience coaching the East/West all-star game," Young said. "Just working with my peers throughout the state and working with some of the best players in the state will be great."
What makes this opportunity even more special is that Young was chosen to coach by the coaches' association.
"The selection of the state all-star coaches and players, it's all through your peers," Young said. "It's through all the other coaches. That's what makes it so special that you are selected by your peers.
"It's exciting, hopefully we will be some mentors and leaders to some outstanding young men. We are just going to try and guide them and put a good product on the field."
For Young he is following in the footsteps of his father as the former Towanda coach also got a chance to take part in the game.
"My father was both an assistant coach in the Big 33 as well as a head coach," Young said. "I believe he was the head coach in 1990. They had a great roster in 1990 with (future NFL players) Kerry Collins and Kyle Brady. It was a great experience that hopefully I'll get a chance to share with my family. What makes it special to me is being selected by my peers."
Young got a chance to go down with his dad when he coached and now he's looking forward to his family going down with him for the game on June 18 in Hershey.
"I was fortunate enough that I had just graduated from college and I was able to be a part of it," Young said of going when his dad coached. "It was a pretty special time. I know from his experiences he made some life-long friends. I will go down and try and see if I can bring some things back to Athens.
"If nothing else, it's a mini-vacation for my family to get to share some special times together. It's going to be an amazing week. At the same time we are going to be celebrating my daughter graduating from high school and this game. It's going to be a nice week and then it will be time to get ready for football season 2016."
Young knows that getting a chance to coach in the same game his dad did is pretty special.
"Once I get a chance to reflect on it a little bit it will be something a little more special to me," Young said. "I did get a chance to coach in the East/West game and that was special. This game's got a tremendous tradition. Our state coaches association is a tremendous organization and if I can share even a little bit of my family it will be special."
Over the years Young has put in a lot of time to coaching, and his family has sacrificed a lot as well, and the coach knows this honor is something for everything all of them did.
"That's kind of the way I'm looking at it," Young said. "I know my family sacrificed a ton for me, if I can do a little something for them and share this with them."
While the game is in June preparing for the game will start soon.
"We will be communicating with them (the players) soon," Young said. "We have a double session in April then we practice the whole week of the game in Hershey. We will practice all week long and have a ton of other events scheduled around the practice. Basically we have one week to take our product and get ready to go against the state of Maryland."
The game matches the best players in Pennsylvania and Maryland. This year's Pennsylvania roster includes a number of players signed with Division I schools. Six players on the team have committed to Pittsburgh, three to Temple and two have committed to Penn State and to Syracuse. there are also players committed to national powers like USC, Oklahoma, Virginia, Boston College and Michigan.