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Pennsylvania football coaches, not Big 33 Foundation, to control all-star showcase

The 60th edition of the Big 33 Football Classic will be under new management, and that might not be the only change on the way for the game.

Garry Cathell, executive manager of the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association, said Tuesday that the statewide organization will assume control of the prestigious all-star showcase from the Big 33 Foundation.

“The PSFCA is going to take the Big 33 game over and we’re going to continue to run this thing like a first-class game,” said Cathell. “I feel like we have such a great, outstanding plan with this, and the big thing is it’s going to remain in Dauphin County.”

Cathell said the game is still slated for Memorial Day weekend (May 29) at Hersheypark Stadium. But, when asked if the date and location could change, he said complete details were "a little bit up in the air."

“We’re also looking at June 10 or June 17,” Cathell said. “I know the Memorial Day date was previously announced and we have not yet crossed out that date.”

According to Cathell, nominations for the 60th Classic closed Monday and all details in the selection process remain unchanged.

Teams for the Big 33 and East-West game, also a part of the new leadership group, will be finalized during the annual PA coaches clinic from Feb. 9-11 at Penn State. The PA roster for the Big 33 will be announced Feb. 10. Once Big 33 players are confirmed, East-West rosters will be announced a few weeks later.

In the past, teams were selected in early January before the date was moved until after National Signing Day last season.

There was some speculation on the immediate future of elite showcase with the passing of Big 33 Director Dave Trimbur in December. Trimbur served as the foundation’s vice president before taking over as interim executive director in Feb. 2009. Callers to the Big 33 Foundation on Monday were referred to Cathell.

At least one Big 33 alum has played in every Super Bowl. The game began in 1957 with Pennsylvania all-stars taking on select players from around the country. All-Stars from Maryland will play Team Pa. for the fifth straight season this year.

Most of the weeklong activities surrounding the Big 33 game will continue, Cathell said, including the “Buddy” program, players staying with host families, cheerleading exhibitions, and players visits to local hospitals.

“Yes, those are the things that make the game what it is, the special things,” said Cathell. “That’s what we’re all about. We want what’s in the best interest of our players, our coaches, and those kids that really cherish the game. Those are going to be elements of the game. We are really trying to keep the game with the integrity that it had, and maybe try to build it up further.”

Franklin Regional coach and PSFCA Hall of Famer Greg Botta will coach the Pa. all-stars. Cathell said officials also may opt to announce Maryland’s all-star contingent on Feb. 10.

In 2016, Penn State-bound running back Miles Sanders scored three touchdowns as Pa. defeated Maryland 26-14.

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