There’s nothing like the pageantry of the annual Scranton Lions Club Dream Game, the oldest high school football all-star game played in the country.
Many of the area’s top graduating players have one last opportunity to play their sport with their teammates, as well as get to know former opponents who are their teammates for the annual County vs. City game.
This year’s game, set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Wednesday, July 30, will be the 80th time the game has been held and this year there is a new site — John Henzes/Veterans Memorial Stadium in Peckville, because of construction at Scranton Memorial Stadium, the longtime home of the game.
As usual, Abington Heights and Lackawanna Trail are well-represented on the County team. Seven players from Abington Heights were listed on the rosters available before last Thursday’s Media Day, held at the Peckville stadium, while two players from Lackawanna Trail were in attendance.
Running back/linebacker Quinn Karam, wide receiver/defensive backs Kyle Tierney, Joe Carroll and Nate Hollander; and linemen Kevin Malone, Dan Stevens and Ben Rarick were the Comets expected to participate. J.C. Show was also selected, but is not playing as he prepares to play basketball for Bucknell University.
Hollander reflected on his anticipation about playing in the game.
“It means a lot to me because of all the tradition, all the people who have played before,” he said. “I know I’ve had previous teammates who have played in this and they’ve had a lot of fun, so I’m looking to have a good time and hopefully win.”
Like many Dream Game players, Hollander has been a spectator at past games and can’t wait for his chance to play.
“I’ve seen five or six since I was little,” he said. “When I was younger, I loved watching the older kids play, but more recently I’ve come to see my teammates play.”
Hollander is waiting patiently for his chance to make memorable moments himself.
“Last year, I saw Jerry Langan making a lot of big tackles, and Dante [Pasqualichio] playing some good defense,” Hollander said of his former teammates at Abington Heights.
Getting the opportunity to stamp his mark on the game is something the Kutztown-bound Hollander has been waiting for his entire senior year of high school.
“Absolutely. It’s an honor to be picked for this game, to play for this [County] team,” Hollander said. “It’s an honor to be a part of this game, sitting on the County side, so I’m looking forward to it.”
As a wide receiver, Hollander hopes to get the ball as often as possible, but understands that County head coach Mike Schuback has been successful with a powerful running game.
“I know Old Forge likes to run the ball,” Hollander said, “but whatever gets the job done.”
To win, Hollander will have to do without Show, a longtime friend and teammate.
“J.C. and I have been playing together since we were little,” Hollander said. “It will be different, but I have to get used to it; I’m going off to college to play soon, so I have to get used to this.”
Jonathon Zedar, a wide receiver/defensive back, and lineman Jake Adcroft, will represent Lackawanna Trail in the game. Like Hollander, the long history and the camaraderie of being on the County team are things Zedar is looking forward to embracing over the 10 days of practice and game day.
“I’m excited,” Zedar said. “It will be nice to have one more game with Jake.”
Zedar can’t wait to step on the field for the game after being a spectator the past few years.
“I came to the game as a sophomore, to watch my teammates, so it has been something I’ve been looking forward to playing,” Zedar said.
Zedar is headed to Lycoming to play football in the fall, and will use the practice days for the Dream Game as a nice transitional stage as he moves from high school to college ball.
“It’s going to help me get in shape,” Zedar said.
The game is going to do more than that. It will make Zedar and all the players involved memories that will last a lifetime.