Billy Morgan took a look earlier this week at some of the names and shook his head. Tomorrow night, the Cardinal O'Hara High graduate will join the list of players who have participated in the Big 33 Football Classic. All-time greats like Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Joe Namath, Tony Dorsett, Matt Millen, and John Cappelletti.
The 5-9, 165-pound wide receiver/defensive back will play for the Pennsylvania All-Stars against an all-star team from Ohio in tomorrow's 52nd annual Classic, set for 7 p.m. at Hersheypark Stadium.
He'll be joined locally by Curtis Drake and Robert Holloman (West Catholic), Mark Arcidiacono and Mike Pinciotti (St. Joseph's Prep), Dave Osei (Abington), Brandon Heath (West Chester Henderson), Justin Pugh (Council Rock South), Brandon McManus and Ronnie Atkins (North Penn), and Dan Shirey and Jay Colbert (Neshaminy).
Pennsylvania leads the series against Ohio, 11-9.
Morgan, who is headed to Hofstra to play football, will play cornerback in the Big 33 game, though he's being projected to be a slot receiver in college. O'Hara quarterback Tom Savage was supposed to play in the game but opted out to attend summer classes at Rutgers, where he'll play this fall.
"It killed when Tom said he wasn't able to play, but Tom will be here Saturday night for the game with some of our friends," Morgan said. "It was a pretty big deal, a great deal to be invited to play in this game. You get to meet other players and it is a little about what you can do and show your college what they can expect from you."
Morgan, a two-sport star in track and football at O'Hara, said playing in last month's Hero Bowl in Delaware County was a big help in preparing for the Big 33. But there has been a good amount of sacrifice involved in committing to play in the game.
While friends are sunning themselves down the shore, he's been doing two-a-days this week.
"It is a sacrifice, I thought I was done with this for a while, but we're in full gear, too, and I feel pretty good," Morgan said. "They've all said this week that this gets your ready for college life. I gave up nationals [in track] to play, and some guys are playing Saturday night and heading right to college the next day."
This is going to be a challenge for Morgan. The Big 33 rules prevent blitzes, leaving cornerbacks alone on an island. It's a pitfall of being a corner in an all-star game. No safety help, little help underneath.
"It shows how good you are, playing against the best in Ohio, and I went up against the best in Pennsylvania every day in practice this week," Morgan said. "Playing corner is as much of a mental game as it is a physical game. You have to know where you are on the field, and if you get beat on one play, you have to let that go and you can't dwell on it. You have to be able to bounce back. I'm ready for that."
After the Big 33, Morgan will still have about a month of summer left. He'll leave for camp at Hofstra in July.
"This will be the last high school game I play," he said. "It's hard for me to leave, but this has been a great experience to meet new people and this will be the most talent I've ever played with. Football is part of me, I love the sport. There's nothing better than to work out and cover some of the best wide receivers out there." *
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