BUFFALO, N.Y.-Wednesday night at 7, many former high school football players will put on the pads and helmet for the last time at the 39th Annual Kensington Lions All-Star High School Football Classic.
Being asked to participate in the game is an honor for the top football players in Western New York that graduated in June.
“It’s great to be able to do what you love and help people at the same time,” said Frontier cornerback Adrian Cannon, a member of the South team.
“It’s great how they raise all the money,” the North’s Tommy Doctor added. “We don’t have to do all this stuff but we’re out here doing it. It’s fun.”
The North is looking for revenge after losing last year’s matchup 37-21 to the South.
“I definitely want to win,” the North’s Nigel Davis said. “The South won the last year by a good margin so we definitely have to defend the North squad for this game.”
Both teams have had ten days to prepare for the contest. The short practice time doesn’t seem to concern South coach Mike Fatta (Cheektowaga).
“I think there’s plenty of time to get (the preparation) done,” he said. “Most of (the players) are only playing one way, which is new for them. They get to get in-depth with some things they usually wouldn’t get.”
The overall intelligence of the players make teaching them a new system much easier for the coaching staff, Fatta added.
Cannon had different thoughts. While he didn’t think the short practice time is challenging, he acknowledged it is different playing with his old rivals.
“You really don’t know everyone,” said Cannon, one of two players participating from Frontier. “You’ve played against them, so you know how to scheme against them, but now you have to play with them.”
“We’re on the same team here. We’re working together. We’re working for each other. It is a little different at first.”
Fatta played for the South team in 1995 after graduating from Cheektowaga, as did North coach Dean Santorio, who graduated from Grand Island in 1986.
“There’s a terminology difference,” said Santorio, who now coaches both Grand Island and the North team. “Things you want to do are different…the mental parts of the game that in 10 days you really have to shore up.”
On the South side, Alden quarterback Brian Stoldt will split reps with Jamestown quarterback Jake Sisson.
“I just want to enjoy every moment,” Stoldt said. “I want to make my hometown proud…represent Alden well and represent Western New York well. Just go out and have a great time. It’s a great fundraiser and we’re here for a good cause.”
Santorio agreed. Winning is important, but first and foremost, the game is a fundraiser.
“Raising money for what the Lions Club does, you can’t beat it,” Santorio said. “Come out and watch some great high school football and support the community.”
The game will be at Depew High School. It is presented by Ad-Pro.