Warren County is sending its fair share of talent to Bradford for Saturday's Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic football game. And according to Jason Luther, offensive coordinator for the pennsylvania team, "they're going to represent Warren County in a very positive way."
"When's the last time a Big 30 game had quarterbacks who combined for over 15,000 yards and 200 career touchdowns?" Luther said in reference to Austin Jerman from Warren Area High School (WAHS) and Matt Bodamer of Port Allegheny High School.
With the addition of Mark Davis (WAHS), John Pascuzzi and Nathan O'Brien from Eisenhower High School, Tyler Fitzgerald from Sheffield Area High School, and TJ Hardy from Youngsville High School, "we're hoping we can put some points on the board," he said.
The half dozen Warren County representatives can each hold their own on this team. Davis, Hardy, Jerman, O'Brien, and Pascuzzi were all named to District 10 region all-star teams for 2012. Jerman, Davis, Hardy, and Pascuzzi also hold offensive or special teams school records, while Fitzgerald, who will play defensive end, is an District 9 Allegheny Mountain League all-star and the Wolverines' 2012 defensive MVP.
Each player brings something different to the team, but they each "bring some unbelievable athleticism," said Luther.
"John (Pascuzzi, at running back) has been phenomenal. We spend a lot of time passing, but he doesn't complain. He's a great asset," Luther said. "He's a hard runner and a hard worker."
Jerman, at quarterback, "is very cerebral. He's intelligent and picks things up quick. You can tell him something once, he retains it, and he applies it. He can spin a ball and yet he's super aggressive," Luther said.
At receiver, O'Brien has been pegged as a "nice addition" to the team. "He's a huge target with huge hands. (If) he catches the ball against the middle, look out. He'll truck you over and keep going. He comes flying across and you can't miss him."
"Mark (Davis) and Nate (O-Brien) are super athletes," Luther added. "I wish I had them on my own team."
As for Hardy, "he's a kid who loves to kick. He showed up the first day and was just a booming kicker. It's been nice. You don't have to worry about it. You don't always have a kicker on a team like this," said Luther. "He's money."
Their contributions come across from more than just their stat sheets. Both Luther and Pennsylvania team head coach Mike Bodamer have been impressed with their efforts in practice. "They're all great kids," Bodamer said. "It's nice to see them play on the same side instead of playing against one another."
Jerman and Pascuzzi agree.
"The best part of the Big 30 experience has been meeting and making friends with kids from the different schools," Jerman said. "For District 9 kids, it's probably a little different because they're playing with the kids they've played against for years, but it's awesome how being on a team can bring everyone together so quickly."
"I'm excited to be playing with all of them," said Pascuzzi. "We have become close from all the car rides to practices together. They all have such amazing talent and I'm so glad they're my teammates and not New York's."
For Jerman, it's his last time to be called a teammate.
"The Big 30 will be my last football game ever," Jerman said. "I've been making the most out of this opportunity. I'm excited for the game on Saturday. It's one last hooraw to play the game I love."
Jerman will play that final game with (receiver) Davis in his rotation as Luther said the rotations were set with familiarity in mind. "They've been awesome together," Luther said. "They've been tough." Pascuzzi will also be playing on offense with the Warren pair.
"I couldn't have asked for a better four years of football," said Jerman. "Getting to play and practice with my best friends every day was something I'll never forget. As I move on to college (Penn State University, main campus), I know I'll miss playing the games, but what I'll miss most is the brotherhood of the football team."
Besides Saturday's game, at 7 p.m. at Parkway Field in Bradford, the six Warren County representatives are also looking forward to the future. Davis jump in track at Slippery Rock University. Hardy plans to study athletic training or physical therapy and kick at Edinboro University, Fitzgerald hopes to pursue a career with the United States Forest Service, and Jerman will study physical therapy. O'Brien plans to study sports management and play college football at Lock Haven, while Pascuzzi has decided on Clarion University to play football.