Big 33 Football Classic alums to compete in Super Bowl for 52nd straight year

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (TNS)

For the 52nd year in a row, the Big 33 Football Classic and the Super Bowl remain linked.

New England Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer played in the 2004 Big 33 Football Classic. He will play in the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Every Super Bowl match-up has included at least one former player from the high school football all-star game, a tradition that will continue this year with Eagles guard Stefen Wisniewski and linebacker Najee Goode and Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Wisniewski, a (Pittsburgh) Central Catholic graduate, played in the Big 33 for Team Pennsylvania in 2007. Hoyer played for Ohio in 2004. Goode played for Ohio in 2013.

Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich also played in the Big 33 in 1980.

“We managed to get through another year,” said Garry Cathell, executive director of the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association, which organized the all-star game. “To be able to look at the four (semifinalist) teams and we still had players on three of them, (that says) we still have a lot of good players that play in the game.”

The Big 33 streak started with Philadelphia native Herb Adderley, a member of the Green Bay Packers for Super Bowl I and II. Adderley, who attended Northeast High School, took part in the first Big 33 in 1957. Beaver Falls native Joe Namath played in the Big 33 in 1961 and Super Bowl III a few years later, advancing a half-century streak that will continue Feb. 4 with Super Bowl LII.

Among the Big 33 alumni on recent Super Bowl rosters was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who chosen as an Ohio all-star in 2000.

The Big 33 game has had varying formats over the years, most often matching a team of Pennsylvania all-stars against standouts from a neighboring state. In recent years, Pennsylvania has faced Maryland.

This year’s Big 33 game is June 16 at Landis Field near Harrisburg.

The PSFCA committee met Friday night to select players for this year’s game. Rosters are expected to be announced Feb. 5, Cathell said. Some players already were notified, including Bethel Park lineman James Gmiter, who announced his selection on Twitter.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.