HERSHEY: Practice is in full swing for the Pennsylvania and the Ohio teams who will meet at Hersheypark Stadium on Saturday, June 17 for the 49th annual Big 33 Classic. Fight On State was on hand to observe the Pennsylvania squad which features six future Nittany Lions.
Head coach Mark Schmidt of Neshaminy High School is running tough no nonsense practice sessions. Schmidt is working hard to make sure that the Pennsylvania team does not take the Ohio squad, depleted by the Ohio North/South All-Star Game, lightly. Hard hitting was evident on both sides of the ball, and several Pennsylvania players had ice packs in evidence during the Sunday evening player's dinner at Hershey High School. Included in this number were Penn Staters Jared Odrick (knee) and Tom McEowen (ankle), however McEowen stripped off his ice pack when he entered the cafeteria, and Odrick's was gone by the time the team reported for photos after the meal. Neither player showed a limp or pain of any kind.
Pittsburgh bound offensive lineman John Malecki of Franklin Regional High School was lost to the Pennsylvania team when he suffered a shoulder separation following a tangle with Jared Odrick. Interestingly enough, the loss of Malecki has forced the Pennsylvania coaching staff to play Odrick at offensive guard part time.
Abe Koroma is quietly stealing the defensive spotlight. Koroma is a monster at a check in weight of 311. Playing at defensive tackle, Koroma requires a double team at all times from the PA offensive line. Despite the double team, Koroma displays good quickness, and a nifty spin move out of the double team that nearly resulted in a takedown on Michigan State bound quarterback Connor Dixon. A few plays earlier, Koroma took advantage of a mishandled snap by Dixon, dove under the center and recovered the fumble.
Tom McEowen is as tough as advertised and virtually unblockable. Coach Schmidt offered high praise to all three big Penn State bound defensive linemen, calling them the strongest links on a very strong defensive unit. Together with Koroma, McEowen was delivering more than the PA offensive line could handle.
Quarterback Pat Devlin shows all the leadership intangibles. A vocal presence on the field, Devlin also delivers a smooth deep ball and displays good quickness on the shorter patterns. The offense was focused today on moving the ball downfield with deep passes to the right side, often targeting Pitt bound Aaron Berry. Fellow Panther, Tight end Nate Byham has not yet reported due to his high school graduation being held this afternoon.
We were unable to assess RB Travis McBride today since the offense was primarily concerned with passing, however FOS will be observing Big 33 practice all week, and we will be bringing you features and updates on the team, and on all the future Nittany Lions. Fight On State is your home for the best Big 33 coverage. You may click on the photos below to view a larger version.
Abe Koroma, Pat Devlin, Tom McEowen, Jared Odrick, Travis McBride, and Collin Wagner