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Written by: on Tuesday, August 12th, 2008


BRADFORD, Pa. – If there were any Pop Warner football coaches in attendance at Saturday night’s Big 30 All-Star Classic from Parkway Field in Bradford, you witnessed how to run the Wing-T offense to perfection.

You also witnessed how NOT to run the wishbone offense, but that’s a different story for a different date and time and setting.

Simply put, all that needs to be emphasized is the 65 Pennsylvania rushing attempts for a staggering 337 yards, an average of well over five yards per rush attempt.

And yes, folks, this was an all-star game. One which didn’t set a standard for passing requirements.

This was just good, old-fashioned, line-it-up-and-shove-it-down-your-throat football.

It was entertaining to watch, as Pennsylvania head coach Steve Ackerman installed a flawless Wing-T scheme in just 11 days.

Right from the onset, Pennsylvania proved it was the far more physical team, and in the end, with Taylor O’Brien, Nick Johnson, Jericho Weitzel, Matt Bryant, Todd Schatz, and Dustin Moran, the sextet of backs were just too much for New York to handle.

O’Brien finished with 95 rushing yards and 2 scores. Keep in mind that through the first three weeks of 2008, O’Brien had run for over 500 yards and scored 11 touchdowns.

Some sports boards had posters who said O’Brien didn’t deserve to play in this game, believe it or not. Those were comments made about a kid on pace for over 1,600 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns. Fancy that.

Nick Johnson ran for 71 yards and finished the Pennsylvania scoring with a 5-yard jaunt up the middle. Johnson was the spark that made Bradford go when O’Brien went down. Not only was Johnson an 1,100-yard rusher, but he made plays on special teams as well.

Bryant hardly got to show his bruising power at Sheffield, more or less running backwards, but this night, he turned in a workhorse-like 12 carries for 44 yards. Not too shabby.

Weitzel was phenomenal. His 105 rushing yards were both team and game highs, and he added a 25-yard diving touchdown catch in the second quarter. His combination of speed and agility made him one tough wingback to cover. And, to top it off, Weitzel had a 53-yard punt return for touchdown called back because of a holding call.

Moran and Schatz combined for 35 hard-earned yards, but each was effective when called upon.

Truth be told, most all-star games these days feature a 60-40 split between running and passing plays. The rule is there to keep the game interesting.

This 35th annual Big 30 game featured a combined 109 rushing attempts to just 26 passing plays.

That’s OK by me.

I, along with about 4,000 others, witnessed a free clinic on how to run the Wing-T.

And I liked what I saw.

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