Players prep for Big 30 game

Coudersport’s five-man contingent in this year’s Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic set for Aug. 3 in Bradford includes (front row, from left) Stephen Kelly, Preston Cobb; (back row) Elijah Ayers, Wyatte Osborne and Mason Klesa.

Media Day for the 2019 Big 30 All-Star Charities Classic was held on June 9, featuring a strong contingent of recent Coudersport High School graduates who helped lead the Falcons to the 2018 District 9 Class A championship and a berth in the PIAA state playoffs.

Led by C/MLB Elijah Ayers and RB/S Stephen Kelly, automatic selections to the squad after being tabbed for the Olean Times Herald Big 30 All-Star Team last fall, the group also includes LG/DT Preston Cobb, QB/CB Mason Klesa, and LT/DT Wyatte Osborne.

As they were waiting to get their pictures taken in their official Pennsylvania game uniforms, the five Falcon teammates gave their reactions to being asked to take part in the longtime tradition.

“It means a lot to all of us, I think. It’s one last time to strap on the pads,” said Ayers, also a Big 30 All-Star in wrestling. “It’s what we all hope for. I think I’m the only one here going to college, so a lot of these guys are jumping right into the real world. They’ll never be able to get back into a spot like this again. So being able to come here, playing for charity and getting to strap the pads on one last time, really means a lot to all of us.”

Added Cobb, one of three Falcon linemen in the game, “Going off what Eli said, one last hoorah and everything. It’s a huge honor to be given the chance to strap up again, lock up and load, I guess. Go out and hit some more kids one last time and be with my brothers.”

Osborne, an eight-time Falcon ‘Lineman of the Week’ last fall who listed his hobby in his Big 30 bio as ‘making holes you can drive a truck through’: “Honestly, it feels good to be playing again. Hopefully we can go out there and be as dominant as we normally are.”

Klesa, who will also play in the Frank Varischetti All-Star Game on June 28 along with Osborne and Kelly: “One more game hanging out with my brothers, one last game playing with everybody we played against.”

Kelly, who turned in a spectacular senior season at running back with 1,782 yards and 28 touchdowns to earn the team’s Offensive Player of the Year award: “One more game, that’s all.”

The 46th annual Big 30 Charities Classic is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, Aug. 3 at Parkway Field in Bradford, following the traditional parade through the city and a pregame tailgate party. The contest between groups of graduated seniors from Pennsylvania and New York has raised more than $1.68 million for various local charities, organizations, families, and individuals in need across the Twin Tiers since its inception in 1974.

New York, which won the first five games and once held a commanding lead in the series, enters this year’s contest with a razor-thin 22-21-2 edge following Pennsylvania’s 37-22 win last August, the third in a row for the Keystone State.