THE SUBJECT UP for discussion was the flavor that has made a certain town famous. Declining to go

mmmmm

was Adam Citko.

"I'm not a big fan of chocolate. Not that much," he said. "I'm not a die-hard chocolate person."

Then, as if he realized that elected officials would get wind of his thoughts and perhaps try to stop him at the city limits (as if that would be possible), he added with a smile, "I do like Hershey bars, though."

With Adam Citko, a 6-5, 315-pound senior at Archbishop Wood High, which at 7 o'clock tonight will meet Selinsgrove in a PIAA Class AAA football state semifinal at HersheyPark Stadium, the two constants are dry humor and quality line play.

The first goes back a way. The second is comparatively new.

You think it's easy being large enough to blot out the sun? Spend a few seasons in the oversized shoes of a young kid who wants to be good, but instead is something less.

Citko never dreamed about earning a college scholarship - he has orally committed to Temple - or making the NFL. His thoughts were always focused on becoming good enough to at least start for Wood.

"I was always tall," said Citko, sitting in the coaches' office before practice, and seemingly taking up half a sofa. "But I wasn't big big like now. Like, a load. I played for a CYO team called the Saints from fifth to eighth grade, but I wasn't that good. Just average, really. I didn't get good until freshman year here, when I started growing into my body."

Of the biggest, the most is expected. Were the expectations tough to handle?

"I was young. I don't remember how I was thinking," Citko quipped.

Among those who pushed back then was his uncle, Chris Monaghan, a first-team coaches' All-Catholic lineman for Father Judge in 1994. The recent nudges have come from coach Steve Devlin, who's now in his second season.

Soon after taking over and checking films, Devlin met with Citko and pulled no punches.

"I told him he had D-I potential, but had to work on his feet," Devlin said. "He did that. He put in the time. His feet are good enough now, we pull him a lot.

"Everything Adam does, he wants to be good at it. He's a great kid and leader. With 100 like him, you'd never have a problem."

Citko improved thanks to nonstop work. Monday through Thursday in the weight room. Saturday at speed camp. In summer, 2 to 3 days a week at a training facility.

Citko has thrived despite an early jolt. Nine years ago, while working, his father, also named Adam and a former basketball-soccer player at North Catholic (class of 1981), died of a heart attack.

Rallying 'round ever since, along with coaches, have been mom Mary and sister Brianna; the Citkos live in Southampton.

"I still think about my dad all the time," Adam said. "That was real tough, especially to have it happen at such a young age. It was out of nowhere. No signs of a problem.

"When all the recruiting attention came, people always said how proud he would have been of me."

At tackle, Citko's blocking has helped Sean Cunningham, a teammate since the fifth grade (along with guard Gerry Campi), set the school record for rushing yards in a season with 1,673. With 1,147 passing yards and 536 more on the ground, quarterback Sean McCartney also has been a terror.

Lately, Citko has also been seeing more action along the defensive line, though that could change tonight as Selinsgrove is known to favor the pass.

"When teams run a lot, the coaches put some beef in there," Citko said, laughing.

Though this season began with a crazy downer, a 43-42, triple-overtime, non-league loss to Pennridge, the Vikings are now 11-2.

The other setback, in Game No. 5, came to West Catholic, 28-17. When both schools were in Catholic Blue, Wood stormed to three straight titles. West seized command in '06 and '07.

"After we lost to West, the look on people's faces, it was like we lost a championship game. It was just that sad," Citko said. "Coach Devlin got us captains together and reminded us we'd only played one-third of the season. We had to focus on league play.

"Beating North Catholic really helped us. Especially since lots of people thought they'd win our division; them or Lansdale Catholic. We just lined up and pounded them. That opened a couple eyes."

Tonight, all peepers shift to Hershey.

"The school's very excited," Citko said. "They're renting buses. Lots of kids are going. There's going to be a blackout. We're wearing our all-black uniforms and the kids will have T-shirts."

Has Citko ever been to Hershey?

"To the amusement park. When I was real little. I don't remember anything about it, though," he said.

Maybe Mom has a picture. Maybe with Hershey bar smears on his face. *