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Thompson set for Big 33 football game; two Steel-High grads are honorary captains

Posted 3/29/17

Details about the 60th anniversary of the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association Big 33 Football Classic — in which Blue Raider standout Jaelen Thompson will play — were released …

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Thompson set for Big 33 football game; two Steel-High grads are honorary captains

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Details about the 60th anniversary of the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association Big 33 Football Classic — in which Blue Raider standout Jaelen Thompson will play — were released Wednesday.

The game is at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 17, at Central Dauphin School District’s Landis Field. It matches high school all-stars from Pennsylvania and Maryland. Tickets for the football game are expected to go on sale May 1. Go to big33.org for information.
 
Thompson was one of five finalists for the Small School 2016 Mr. PA Football. He will play in college at Towson University in Maryland. Middletown’s all-time leading rusher helped the Blue Raiders reach the 2016 PIAA AAA championship game.

He rushed for 3,940 yards to pass the 3,409 yards by Rodney Ramsey, whose last season was in 2008.

The 5-foot-10-inch, 190-pound senior played defensive back as well as running back.
Thompson was a Mid-Penn All-Star. He was named to the PA Writers All State Team and the All Eastern PA Team, and was selected as Eastern PA Football Player of the Year.

 

Honorary chairs for this year’s game are Bishop McDevitt graduate Noah Spence, defensive end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Steelton-Highspire School District graduate Jordan Hill, defensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks; Bobby Watson Sr., Steelton-Highspire graduate, 1960 Big 33 team, University of Tennessee player and Hershey High School coach for 35 years; and Steve Keim, Red Land High School, 1991 Big 33, North Carolina State University player and General Manager of the Arizona Cardinals.

During the game, there will also be a tribute to Harrisburg High School graduate Adrian Robinson, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers before his death in 2015, and former Big 33 executive director Dave Trimbur, who passed away late last year.

The financially troubled Big 33 Scholarship Foundation closed its doors last year, and the commissioners pledged $100,000 in tourism dollars, funded from hotel room taxes, to ensure the game would continue. The commissioners worked with the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association, which took over the Big 33 Football Classic.

“We knew that we could not allow this great tradition to falter,’’ Dauphin County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Haste said. “Not only is the Big 33 important in its own right, but is also important to our hotels, restaurants and many other businesses that benefit from visitors who attend game and the events surrounding it.’’

Garry Cathell, executive director of the PSFCA, said he didn’t know if the game would’ve happened this year without the support of the commissioners.

“The Big 33 is a big deal for our region and we were committed to making sure this proud tradition continues,’’ said Commissioner Mike Pries. “Tourism spending brings in $2.3 billion every year, and events like the Big 33 draw visitors to our area and let them see all we have to offer.’’

Many high school players who took part past Big 33 games have gone on to professional careers in the NFL, including Herb Adderly, Joe Namath, Tony Dorsett, Joe Montana, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Ricky Watters and Ben Roethlisberger.

Recent games had been held at Hersheypark Stadium.

“When we were approached by the executive director of the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association as to this possibility, it quickly became apparent to the Board of School Directors and administration that we would be honored to serve as the host,” said Central Dauphin School Board President Ford Thompson.

Additionally, money raised from the game and the events surrounding it support the Buddy program, which connects kids with special needs with all-star athletes in football, baseball and beyond.

“We, and all the buddy families, are thrilled that children will continue to have buddies and have the incredible ‘Buddy’ experience this year,” said Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico whose son, Owen, has participated in the Buddy program for years.

This year’s game will include a family fun and awareness festival from 3 to 6:30 p.m. June 17 at Landis Field. Several county departments and community organizations will offer educational activities for children of all ages, with an emphasis on drug and alcohol prevention. 

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