The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 21, 2014

Local stars shine in Ken Lantzy Finest 40 game

Shawn Curtis

JOHNSTOWN — While the Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star Game brings football standouts from across the region to Greater Johnstown’s Trojan Stadium, Friday night’s contest took on a distinct Richland flavor as the South toppled the North 48-18 in the 44th edition of the summer football contest.

Six of the seven South touchdowns were scored by Richland players and the odd touchdown out was created by a Matt Shaffer pass on the Rebels’ opening drive.

“It’s an all-star game,” South coach Bob Landis, of Somerset, said. “All of these guys are great football players from top to bottom. They went out and executed.”

Shaffer passed for 202 yards and three touchdowns, rushed for 122 yards and a score.

Kyle Flick, the target of two of Shaffer’s touchdown passes, also reeled in a touchdown pass from Somerset’s Tanner Stull while collecting 126 receiving yards. Tanner Solarczyk pounded the ball into the end-zone twice, rushing for 68 yards in the process.

On the defensive end of things, Ben Verhovsek scooped up a pair of North fumbles.

Big plays for the South weren’t just limited to former Rams standouts. Ligonier Valley quarterback Scott Fennell passed for 188 yards in the first half before exiting the game following a solid hit from North defenders on the half’s last play.

Stull, in a multifaceted role, passed for 21 yards, caught two passes for 39 yards and rushed for 24 more while completing a pair of two-point conversion passes.

“They made plays, they made big plays,” North coach Greg Page of Homer-Center said. “They have guys who can do it. Their quarterbacks threw the ball well, we didn’t help them a lot, but we couldn’t stop them. We had opportunities to keep the bleeding at a minimum, we did not do it. That’s a credit to them.”

With Shaffer at the helm on the opening drive, he capped off the seven-play march with a

2-yard pass to Bishop McCort’s Tyler Rugg. Windber’s Dan Tomlinson came down with the conversion pass from Stull.

With Fennell in command of the South’s next possession, he passed for 104 yards thanks to a slew of penalties on the South, but a Stull pass on fourth-and-goal from the Yankees’ 6 kept the score at 8-0.

It took one play on the South’s ensuing possession to find the end zone as Shaffer connected with Flick on a 45-yard strike to increase the lead to 14-0.

For Shaffer, the opportunity to fling passes to Flick for one more night was a great joy.

“That’s something I’ll remember more than anything,” Shaffer said. “We’ve been doing this for three years. Kyle’s a great receiver. A lot of confidence when you throw to that guy because you know he’s going to make the play.”

The North replied in the early stages of the second quarter when Northern Bedford’s Kyler Diehl caught a 2-yard pass from Bishop Carroll’s Tyler Janosik on a halfback option pass.

Shaffer closed out the first-half scoring with a 2-yard run, making it 20-6 at intermission.

The North’s second possession of the second half yielded its biggest play when Diehl brought in a pass from Northern Bedford teammate Blake Over and rambled the majority of the 68 yards gained on the snap, cutting the South’s lead to 20-12.

A 22-yard touchdown strike to Flick from Shaffer opened a run of 28 straight South points. Shaffer added the conversion run to increase the lead to 28-12.

Stull’s 11-yard pass to Flick came on the South’s next drive, set up by a Verhovsek fumble recovery.

With the game firmly in the South’s grasp, Solarczyk scored on touchdown runs of 19 and

25 yards to increase the lead to 48-12. Westmont Hilltop’s Sam Curry caught a conversion pass from Stull on Solarczyk’s first touchdown run.

Over, who passed for 167 yards, connected on a 29-yard pass play to Bedford’s Kody Blevins as time expired.


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