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All-Star Game a shining night for the Big 30

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Posted: Monday, August 8, 2011 10:14 am

BRADFORD — The game wasn’t one for the ages. In fact, it was one of the more forgettable match-ups in the 38 year history of the Don Raabe Big 30 Charities/Big 30 All Star Game.

Pennsylvania’s 28-3 victory over New York was pretty much workmanlike.

And the score could have been much worse. Pennsy had drives end at the New York  1-  and 4-yard lines and missed a 24-yard field goal.

There were basically only two big offensive plays,  a wide-open Joe Holmberg from Johnsonburg hauling in a 35-yard touchdown pass from Kane quarterback Alex Anderson and Southwestern wide receiver Nick Austin outwrestling a Pa. defender for a 48-yard reception from Allegany-Limestone QB Brad Costa.

Still, it was a shining night for the Big 30 Committee, which has taken its share of hits in this space.

SOME 90 minutes before kickoff, Parkway Field endured a rainstorm so intense, the crowd was asked to leave the stadium.

The Committee then met to make a plan during a 30 minute delay.

Moving the game to Sunday was one consideration, but with much of the crowd either there or en route, that ranked as the last option.

A check of the weather radar indicated the pre-game rain had moved through, though another downpour was predicted for 11 p.m. Thus, the Committee decided the game would go on in abbreviated fashion.

The 15 minute quarters were reduced to 12, the four  team timeouts per half were cut to three and the player, coach, cheerleader and Homecoming Queen introductions were condensed into the teams’ warm-up time.

Thus, despite the delay, kickoff was only one minute after the scheduled 7 o’clock start.

The rain stayed away on a humid night and the game ended at 9:20, an impressively economical time frame for an all-star matchup.

OTHER  thoughts on the game:

n  Some players and fans might have taken issue with the quarters being shortened, but the decision served its purpose ...  getting the game in between one heavy rain and a predicted second one.

Clearly, in good weather, especially with mandatory substitution, 15 minute quarters are a must to reward players for their commitment to practice and the game. But, in a special circumstance, as with Saturday night, the decision was inspired and the committee is to be commended.

And, it’s worth noting, if a game had to be shortened, a blowout is the least likely to be adversely affected. New York’s 25 point loss was hardly impacted  by the loss of 12 minutes playing time.

n  Then there was the officiating.

 Several times over the years, including last August, the Pennsylvania based crew has been blasted by me for being flag happy and seemingly more interested in calling attention to itself.

This year’s crew underwent a bit of a makeover, and the result was impressive. Referee Bob Boyer and his six officials called a mere eight penalties (four on each team)  for only 62 yards and were just what an officiating crew is supposed to be ...  anonymous.

Part of the credit, though, goes to coaches Jason Barner (Kane) and Jason Marsh (Salamanca) and their staffs.  Virtually absent were the false starts, encroachment, illegal motion and delay of game calls that are epidemic in early season or all star games.

Even better, there was none of the chippiness nor any of the unsportsmanlike conduct calls that have marked recent games.

n  And, finally, some personal observations.

All along, I’ve been an advocate of keeping this game in the Big 30. In my mind, with St. Marys Public,  Warren, Eisenhower , Youngsville, Gowanda and the newly added Southwestern and Frewsburg being out of the area or playing schedules virtually devoid of Big 30 schools ...  they shouldn’t be part of the game.

What’s wrong with having, say,  five players from a Cameron County or Port Allegany or Wellsville or Cattaraugus Little Valley, rather than four?

Do teams really need 43 players, or would 38 or 39 do?

My concern is there’s a disconnect with the seven schools mentioned above and it seems neither the advertising revenue nor the tickets sold from those fringe areas merit their inclusion in the game?  Do you really think the second best player at many small schools is better than Bradford or Pioneer’s sixth best?

Don Raabe’s plan all along was to have every school represented, not load the roster with the area’s most talented players, small programs be damned.

And, yeah, I still have to say it.

For years I campaigned for an earlier start to the game. Selfishly, the 7:30  kickoff made it tough on the Times Herald, the only paper covering the game trying to make a Sunday edition. Finally, the committee acquiesced to a 7 o’clock start.

But, after Saturday night, if not for the media, but rather for fans driving back to Yorkshire or Ridgway, wouldn’t a 6 o’clock kickoff be perfect?

(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at cpollock@oleantimesherald.com)

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