Big 33 Football Classic: 23 locals to represent Maryland

June 11

Theodore Simonic introduces himself to Big33 Maryland players (L-R) Jaquille Veli (7), Luke Casey (3), Shane Cockerille (2) and Tyler Ambush (1) during a buddy session that included a pizza party with the players as they prepare to compete against Pennsylvania in the Big33 Football Classic on June 12, 2013 in Hummelstown, PA (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

The list of high school all-star games has grown so long in recent years that the NCAA capped the number of exhibitions senior standouts could play in at two. Inspired by the promise of TV revenue and the explosion of interest in top-rated recruits, companies have drenched the high school football market with senior all-star showcases whose weight comes less from tradition and more from the scale of their television contract.

But before there were all these games, there was the Big 33 Football Classic: “the game,” as former NFL defensive lineman Reggie White called it in a 2013 Post story. Held in Hershey, Pa., the Big 33 matches Pennsylvania’s top senior football talent against that of a neighboring state. Recently, that opponent was often Ohio. Until last year, Maryland hadn’t earned the chance since 1992. But after a 58-27 loss to Pennsylvania in last year’s game, Maryland is back in the Big 33 game again, and 23 locals will try to shift the result Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.

Those 23 locals, selected through a try-out process, have been in Hershey since Sunday, staying with host families and contributing to the Big 33′s community service initiative, which pairs the players with “buddies” who have special needs. While some all-star games bring players in for a few days of practice , if that, the Big 33 experience includes a week of hard practice, an early tune-up for college-bound seniors, many of whom will take off shortly after for summer classes.


This year’s Maryland crew is coached by River Hill’s Brian Van Deusen, who is assisted by Wise Coach DaLawn Parrish, Douglass Coach J.C. Pinkney, and assistants from their high school staffs. They’ll coach a team comprised in large part of players from Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Defending Maryland 4A state champion Northwest is the best represented squad of that bunch, with three graduating Jaguars on the roster.

Here’s the full list of locals with name, school, position, and college plans. You can watch them on the NFL Network on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Daniel AppouhSeneca Valley, DE, Old Dominion

Antwaine CarterWestlake, QB, Maryland

Anthony ChesleyGwynn Park, WR/DB, Coastal Carolina

Javonn CurryPaint Branch, WR, James Madison

Jerome DewsPotomac, LB, Tennessee

Marquel DickersonNorth Point, RB, Towson

Rasheed GillisNorthwest, LB, Shepherd

Josh GillsNorthwest, RB, Dusquesne

Melvin GowlSpalding, OL, Air Force

Gary GrossDouglass, DT, Nassau Community College

Jake HawkMeade, OT, Navy

Anthony JacksonSuitland, LB, Delaware

Stephen Jacob, Damascus, LB, Richmond

Jalen JonesSouth River, QB, New Mexico

Kevin JoppyQuince Orchard, RB, Shepherd

Samer MannaNorthwest, LB, Wesley

Zach NicholasMount Hebron, DB, Buffalo

Alex PotockoRiver Hill, K, Salisbury

Avery TaylorGaithersburg, DE, Merrimack

Micah TillWise, DE/TE, N.C. State

Solomon VaultGaithersburg, RB, Northwestern

Casey WokochaEleanor Roosevelt, LB, West Virginia State

Jamal WoodlandDuVal, CB, Toledo

NUMBER CRUNCH: 48

The number of Super Bowls played, and the number of Super Bowls with a Big 33 alum participating. Denver Broncos Zak Dysert and Steve Vallos and Seattle Seahawk Jordan Hill are all Big 33 alumni.

BREAKFAST LINKS: 

– Despite being dismissed all season, the Langley boys’ lacrosse team is back in the state title game after a dominating win against Osbourn Park

Loudoun County’s Kyle Buresh became an unlikely hero in the Raiders’ state semifinal win over Western Albemarle Tuesday

– Battlefield pitcher Nick Wells will sign with the Toronto Blue Jays

– Paul VI’s Raven James committed to Villanova, the Panthers’ first 2016 commit

– Wilson defensive end Kareem McDonald commits to Old Dominion

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: 

Last night in a Virginia 6A girls semifinal, Westfield breezed by Battlefield and into the state title game. Here’s what it looked like:

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Virginia 5A girls’ lacrosse state semifinal at Woodgrove. The Wolverines host Salem (Salem, Va.) at 6 p.m. in Purcellville with a state championship matchup against cross-town rival Loudoun Valley on the line.

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