The SportsTalk Shop: All-Star Football Preview

This Thursday marks the official end to the 2013-14 scholastic sports calendar year—the McDonald’s All-Star High School Football Game–played each year at Nazareth’s Andrew Leh Stadium. It is a special time as we honor our local gridiron stars one final time (for those not playing at the collegiate level) and the event raises money for a great cause.

While football is extremely competitive in the Eastern Pennsylvania region, this game is special because it showcases talented athletes one more time and, in many cases, makes long-time rivals, teammates. The one reoccurring comment that I hear year after year about this game is the memories that are created by playing in this contest. By combining one team’s great players with another’s great players, they have an opportunity to truly admire each other’s talents, can talk about how they gained their skills and share stories from their high school careers. There are many friendships forged during the weeks leading up to this game, and many student-athletes enjoy the on-field banter that takes place with new teammates. Friendships also develop with the players they are playing against for this game—sometimes facing athletes they have never had a chance to see up-close-and-personal during their careers.

For many athletes, it can be a sacrifice…giving up your first few weeks of summer vacation or summer college prep classes, practicing in pads and equipment in 90-degree heat, getting yelled at by coaches (although not nearly as loud as in the fall) when you run the wrong play in practice, et al. But to a man, I’ve never heard any athlete say that he did not enjoy participating in this event.

Here are a few thoughts from the participating coaches and players on how they’ll approach this year’s contest, and then I have a few areas to concentrate on for the game itself.

As far as the actual game, keep an eye on the quarterbacks in this year’s contest. I remember two years ago when a group of talented QBs like Nosovitch, Harding and the like all graduated, there was one sports columnist who said that the passing ability would dip a bit. But I remember seeing young players, then sophomores, with amazing potential and a number of those athletes developed into outstanding quarterbacks in their own right. The All-Star game’s rules usually lend themselves to helping a passing attack, but I think some of these signal-callers have something to prove and will want to air it out one more time on a local stage.

Also, keep an eye on the center of both team’s defenses. While sometimes undermentioned by us in the media, there were some outstanding defensive tackles, middle linebackers and safeties this past football season—and not just at the big schools. Palisades, Southern Lehigh and Catty, to name a few, had some of their top defensive players—EVER—in the school’s history. While the smaller schools sometimes get outshined in terms of publicity, this Thursday will be an excellent time to showcase all the tremendous defensive players in the Eastern Pennsylvania region.

What other players and positions will you be watching for Thursday’s game? Who do you think will win? Send us your comments to and tune in Thursday’s live at 6pm as we talk local sports issues with you!