Since its inception in 1957 when a Pennsylvania team took on a team of all-stars from across the country, State College has had a history of players and coaches in the Big 33 game.
Among the State High alums in the game were Jim Williams, who served as a head coach, and players like the Suhey brothers - Larry, Paul and Matt - John Sefter, Clay Singletary and Larry Johnson. Ron Pavlechko, former State High head coach, was an assistant in the Big 33 game twice.
The tradition continues this year as State High coach Matt Lintal is an assistant to head coach Mark Evans of Manheim Twp. Little Lions who will be playing in the 61st edition of the classic at Hershey Stadium Saturday when Pennsylvania meets Maryland at 7 p.m. are wide receiver Brandon Clark and offensive lineman Colin DeBoef.
Lintal, whose dad, Dave, coached the Little Lions at one time, is happy to be a part of it. “I went to a game or two when I was young,’’ he said. “It’s something I wanted to be a part of.’’
Since he will be coaching the wide receivers, he will have a chance to coach Clark as well as several players from the Mid-Penn Conference he has coached against the past several years. “I’m excited to have one last opportunity to coach Brandon,’’ he said. “And I’m looking forward to getting to know the players from the Mid-Penn.’’
Clark, whose father, Bruce, played in the 1976 Big 33 game along with Matt Suhey, and later became an All-American defensive lineman for Penn State and was drafted by the Green Bay Packers, was a big-play threat for State High. He caught 51 passes for 912 yards and scored 16 TDs as State went 10-3.
“Brandon is ultra-competitive,’’ Lintal said of the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Clark, who will be going to Penn State. "He always wants to go against the best competition. And he’s extremely talented. He can do anything you ask him to do. He always wants to get the ball in his hands.
“He has the best ball skills of anyone I’ve seen in the last seven years and he has the best hands. He was part of our varsity program for four years so I’ve had a chance to watch him grow in so many ways. He grew into being one of our captains. He’s just an outstanding kid and I’m really proud of him.’’
Clark was also an integral part of the State High basketball team and excelled in the jumps in track.
DeBoef is the third of three brothers who played on the offensive line for State. “Colin is the smartest offensive lineman I have coached at State High,’’ Lintal said. “He could play any of the five offensive line positions. We asked a lot of him. He understood the game at a level most high school kids don’t get. We made him our center because he was able to make the calls. If someone needed help he would help them. He owned that role.
“He was a teaching assistant for a chemistry class and when his teacher got hurt he actually taught the class instead of having the kids take a study hall. He‘s just a really neat kid.”
DeBoef who is 6-foot-6, weighs 275 and won’t turn 18 until next month, is also going to Penn State. “I think he will continue to improve,’’ Lintal said.
State had another player, lineman Robert Nachtman, selected to play in the game but he enrolled early at Delaware.