The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

High School Sports

January 28, 2014

Ligonier Valley's Bloom picked for Big 33 Game

JOHNSTOWN — As Easton coach Steve Shiffert announced the athletes comprising the Pennsylvania squad for June’s Big 33 Classic, Alec Bloom’s entry on the squad saw the Red Rovers coach stumble when faced with pronouncing Ligonier Valley, uttering “Legion Valley” instead during Tuesday’s live video feed on YouTube.

While Bloom won’t necessarily be tasked with making sure that the rest of the state is up to speed in pronouncing his school’s name the correct way by the time that he takes the field on June 14 in Hershey against a team of Maryland all-stars, he was mildly amused by the mispronunciation. 

“It was kind of funny,” Bloom said with a chuckle. “Eventually they’ll get it corrected, so it’s not a big deal.”

While the Ligonier Valley name isn’t household across the state, Bloom made quite an impact during his senior season as one of the state’s best tight ends.

The accolades show it: A selection to the Pennsylvania Sportswriters All-State team and a nod on USA Today’s all-Pennsylvania squad are the most notable of the honors received by Bloom, who was also a first-team tight end selection on The Tribune-Democrat’s All-Area Team.

“I think it speaks volumes and of the volume of the body of work that he did,” Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said. “Even with a season which was cut short to injury. The people who were on the selection committee for the Big 33 recognized that. They also saw and recognized the same things that a lot of the experts did when he went through this recruiting process.”

The 6-foot-7 Bloom, who is still linked to Connecticut at the moment, can now add a selection to play in the Big 33 Classic to that list.

“I was just blown away,” Bloom said, “Words can’t describe how excited I was to learn that I was selected to the squad. It’s a tremendous honor to be selected to play in the game because of the things you hear about it when you’re little. To be a part of it is just an unreal feeling.”

Bloom, who hauled in 45 passes for 830 yards and 12 touchdowns, was named to the Pennsylvania team comprised of the state’s standout football players. Bloom was the area’s lone representative on the Pennsylvania squad.

 “I am so excited for Alec and proud of his accomplishments but this is the pinnacle of them all,” Beitel said. “This is the highest honor that a Pennsylvania football player can earn.  It is the game you dream of playing in your entire lifetime. I know that Alec will proudly represent Ligonier Valley, this area, and Pennsylvania.”

Despite missing the Rams’ last three games of the season with a knee injury, Bloom saved some of his best performances for Ligonier Valley’s strongest opponents. In a two-week span against Penns Manor and eventual District 6 Class A champion Homer-Center, Bloom caught a combined 19 passes for 354 yards and five touchdowns.

This year’s game will be broadcast by the NFL Network. The Big 33 Classic, which has been played since 1957 has had an alumnus play in every Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos’ Zac Dysert and Steve Vallos along with Seattle’s Jordan Hill continuing the streak this year.

“To say that I’m excited and proud is really an understatement,” Beitel said. “At this point, I really don’t have any words. The words don’t exist to describe the feeling of pride that I have for Alec, his family, the program and the area as a whole.”

Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/shawncurtis430.

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