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HS FOOTBALL: Lions Classic loaded with locals

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

Alex Neutz knows in just a few short weeks he’s going to step on a field with some of the top players in the country at the University at Buffalo.

Tonight, though, the Grand Island graduate will be lining up with and against some of the top players in Western New York as part of the 34th annual Kensington Lions Club All-Star Classic. The contest will kick off at 7 p.m. at North Tonawanda’s Lumberjacks Athletic Complex.

“This is a pretty special game because you’re playing with all great players,” the Niagara Gazette Player of the Year said at a recent North team practice at Sweet Home. “Usually you play with a couple great players, but here you get the feeling that everyone has a lot of skill and is a special player.”

Among those scheduled to participate in the game for the North squad are locals Joe Scibilia (Starpoint, QB/K/P), Josh Salada (Niagara Falls, WR), Rich Burr (Niagara-Wheatfield, DB), Brandon Bratek (Starpoint, RB), Brandon McClinsey (North Tonawanda, RB), Eddie Weiser (Grand Island, RB), Anthony Hardy (Niagara-Wheatfield, OL), Zach Weiland (North Tonawanda, OL) and Jamar Anderson (Niagara Falls, DL).

For Salada, the Classic has been an opportunity to not only gain more recognition for himself and the Wolverines but also meet new people.

“I’ve built a lot of friendships over the past couple weeks,” the Erie Community College-bound slot receiver said. “A lot of these guys we’ve played against each other. We’ve fought against each other and talked trash, like the Vogel brothers from Clarence. I’ve realized they’re cool guys, though.”

Speaking of cool, that’s exactly how McClinsey described the opportunity to finish out his high school football career on his home field.

“It’s going to be one last final good-bye,” he said. “It’s going to be real fun to play on that field again — lot of good memories on there.”

Now, all that McClinsey can hope is that his final memory includes a victory, much like last year’s thrilling 23-20 triumph for the North. If his teammates have anything to say about that, it’s a done deal.

“The talk around the locker room is that our defense is really strong and they’re going to make a statement with some big hits,” Neutz said. “We expect to win.”

Neutz’ high school teammate Eddie Weiser, who is headed to Buffalo State College, added, “We plan on going out, having fun and enjoying the experience… but I’m pretty sure we’ll win, too.”