The venerable Jerry Page, former coach of Laurel Valley, always preached that football was so much more than just a game.
Page, whose son Greg of Homer-Center was the North squad coach Friday at the 44th Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star game, was honored prior to the start of the game.
The elder Page was praised for his years of service to the organization as well as his positive outlook in helping to shape so many of the young men who played for him over the years.
“It’s an extreme pleasure,” the humble Jerry Page said about being honored. “To be a part of the great game of football even as I am now, father of Greg, and as a former coach, it’s always been an extreme pleasure for me. I love the game, I love the kids who played at Laurel Valley and I love my fellow coaches and all the parents and families. It was just a tremendous experience. Now I get to watch it from a different vantage point.”
Jerry Page was at the helm for the Rams starting in 1979 and stepped down at the end of the 2008 season.
“Realizing that all good things must come to an end, it hasn’t been that hard for me (adjusting to being on the sidelines),” Jerry Page said. “Of course with Greg coaching, it’s made it easier for me. He has often said to me that I’m the reason that he’s a coach and he thanks me.”
The elder Page said that coaches help teach players so much more that the game of football.
“To me, that is the most important thing,” Jerry Page said.
Page’s North squad lost 48-18 to the South.
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Decal dilemma: Just as Olympians exchange pins, Ken Lantzy game players trade decals.
Thus, the many decals collected make the familiar helmets of the schools look a little less familiar to fans.
For instance, Richland’s Matt Shaffer, one of the quarterbacks for the South, had his Rams’ emblem nearly eclipsed by logos from Somerset, Greater Johnstown and Westmont Hilltop.
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Awards: A number of athletes received special recognition from the Ken Lantzy organization.
For the game, Richland’s Matt Shaffer was chosen as the outstanding back from the South.
The other South winners included: Greater Johnstown’s Grant Brandon (offensive lineman), North Star’s Dalton Rice (defensive line) and Somerset’s Douglas Berkebile (defensive back).
The North’s outstanding offensive back was Northern Bedford’s Kyler Diehl.
The other North winners are Bishop Guilfoyle’s Nick Little (defensive lineman), Bedford’s Alec Jones (offensive lineman) and Cambria Heights’ Isaac Scelesky (defensive back).
Prior to the start of the game, Bishop McCort’s Luke DiFrancesco received the $500 David Rizzo Memorial Award while Homer-Center’s Mike Newhouse earned the $500 Paul Shandor Memorial Award.
Scott Bauer of Central Cambria along with Derek Mullen and Levi Albright of North Star were the recipients of the $500 Robert P. Gardill scholarships for scholastic achievement while Steven Richards of Saltsburg earned the Arthur R. Palumbo $1,000 scholarship for academic excellence.
Stacy Schmitt of North Star, who has stepped down as the Cougars coach after 11 seasons, was selected as the 2014 honoree by the Lantzy committee.
Schmitt helped the game run a little more smoothly by compiling a set of written guidelines to help future coaches of the all-star game become more familiar with the Ken Lantzy program. He also suggested rules of etiquette to govern dorm life during the week of the game.
Cory Isenberg is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/CoryIsenbergTD.