Football

GEFA ROB MARRERO MEMORIAL KICKOFF CLASSIC

Tagged under: GEFA, News, pfn

Guy Smith | March 26, 2024

So far in 2024 we had been to see auto racing, basketball, track & field, wrestling, ice hockey, softball, rugby, lacrosse, and baseball all at the college level or higher. But until Saturday, March 23, nary a single football game. Now we’ve seen three.

For over 50 consecutive years, Guy has been to more auto racing events annually than any other sport. Is this the year that football takes over the top spot? Thanks to GEFA (Great Eastern Football Association), maybe so!

We first learned of GEFA (Established 2005) in the middle of last season, and went to four of their games. However, of those four, two of the home teams have folded, and one moved to a new home field. Plus, the Carbon County Savages and Susquehanna Valley Bolts left the league in mid-season before our scheduled visits. For the Bolts, it was less than 24 hours before we planned to attend their game. We lost another chance at a close one when the Electric City Skyhawks left the league at the end of the year. Koons Park for the Dauphin County Comanche is the lone site still active from those we visited last year.

For 2024 the league has a more western slant to it, making it a bit tougher for those of us who live close to the New Jersey border. To begin this season, there are 11 teams, each having their own home field. In addition, there are three special events, and each of those games are being held at neutral fields, giving GEFA tentatively 14 game sites during the season.

We have decided to increase our GEFA attendance/support this season. Why? Because the games are fun to watch! We are not committing to attend every Saturday because it is also racing season and soon to be soccer and baseball season too, but are definitely planning on more than the four we saw last year. As of now the goal for the end of the season is to have attended games at more than half of those 14 game sites. Central Columbia High School for the Rob Marrera Kickoff Classic was the first.

ROB MARRERA MEMORIAL KICKOFF CLASSIC. The GEFA worked so hard to make this event a big-event season launch. It’s a shame that the early in the day rain and all day long cold and wind affected the turnout. They deserved better.

The “Kickoff Classic” got off to a bit of a rocky start, first announced to be played at Williamsport Area High School, then just six days later it was moved to Central Columbia High School.

During the two months between the announcement and the games, the league did so many good things to try to make the event special. They announced that three food trucks would be serving the event, and although only two of them actually showed on game day, the food served was delicious. Rapper Eazi Does It was signed to provide the halftime entertainment during the third and final game. All three games were announced to be streamed live on YouTube. An Easter egg hunt was scheduled for the kids after game one. Tickets were kept very affordable at only $5 for adults, good for all three games, with kids free. They collected many donations for baskets to be raffled away on game day. They also did a great job in getting a good number of businesses in Bloomsburg to display the event poster.

After temps in the 60s the week before, we were really looking forward to a day of GEFA football. Then the weather turned cold, and the forecast wet. But football isn’t a fair-weather sport, and we are not fair-weather fans.

Our plan was to go to our daily morning yoga class, then head to Central Columbia High School where the games would be played starting at 1:00. We had been to that field once before, but for high school soccer, not football.

But Pam had car trouble and we had to take her car to the dealer for repairs, then pick it up before heading to the games. This turned out to be perfect timing for us. We missed the start of the first game, but pulled into the parking lot just as the rain stopped.

Game One. Monroeville Titans vs. Somerset County Miners. Upon arrival, we were pleased to see that they were using the actual scoreboard and the public address system, thus elevating the professionalism to a higher level than we had seen at their games in the past. Unfortunately, the rain and cold had an obvious effect on the turnout in the stands, with only a few dozen on hand. Having not seen the first quarter or the start of the second, we are not sure why the half took so long, but it was apparent that they had to speed things up or they would be playing very late into the evening. Thankfully, they did.

The Titans didn’t have as many players as the other teams playing, but they led the whole time we were there. It was a nailbiter at the end, as the Miners closed to within three, then had several opportunities in the final minutes to pull this one out. Although the momentum had shifted to the Miners, the Titans defense withstood every challenge and kept the Miners out of the end zone at the most crucial time for a well-earned 27-24 victory.

The Easter egg hunt was scheduled for the end of game one, but they had it with over eight minutes still to play. Hope no kids missed out because of the early start.

We planned on supporting the food trucks that supported the Kickoff Classic, so after Game 1 we headed for sustenance and decided to go with Deez Tacos first. Pam chose a pair of chorizo sausage soft tacos, Guy a chorizo burrito bowl. Outstanding!

Game Two pitted the Berks County Raptors against the Bedford County Buffaloes. Due to the length of the first half of the first game, the opening kickoff was a bit over a half hour late. This was pretty much a blowout. The Raptors took a kickoff to the house, but a penalty took their only first-half points off the board. The Buffs were up 38-0 at the half. With the outcome decided, we warmed up in the car during Q3. The final, in a Mercy Rule running clock (we did not even know GEFA had that, probably because we had never seen a clock at any of their games before), Bedford buffaloed the Raptors 65-22.

After game two we headed back to the food truck plaza, aka parking lot, with a plan to try the other truck, Shane’s Sandwich Shack. Pam stuck to the plan and gave Shane a thumbs up, while Guy couldn’t resist another burrito bowl from Deez, this time the shrimp version. Kudos for both trucks for staying open for all three games, when the weather clearly held down the crowd, and thus their profits. Both get our votes for future GEFA games. Hope to see them at the Keystone Bowl and the All-Star game at the end of the season.

Game 3 featured the Wilkes-Barre Warriors and the Williamsport Wildcats. Thanks to the running clock in game two, they got even closer to an on-time kickoff for game three. This was the first time we had seen GEFA “under the lights.” The Warriors jumped out to a 26-12 lead at the half. During halftime, the Wildcats coach focused on the fact that the Warriors had just three offensive linemen, and told his defensive line to stay close to him as they were going to rotate in and out for the entire second half and wear down the Warriors O-line personnel. When the rapper performed his halftime show, there were a total of five people in the stands, everyone else heading to their cars to warm up until play resumed. We did also. Unfortunately, at that time we checked the Bloomsburg weather and found the temperature had dropped to 30 with a windy real feel of just 20.

During Q3, the above numbers got in our heads and made us believe we were colder than we had been the previous quarter. With under five minutes left in the third and no scores that half by either team, we decided that sitting in that cold for over six hours was enough and headed out. Imagine our shock the next morning to read that the Wildcats scored 20 unanswered points after we left and pulled out an incredible 32-26 win. Should have toughed out that last quarter for sure. Seems like the Wildcat coach’s halftime strategy worked like a charm.

GEFA announced a crowd of over 200 for the day, but most were there for one of the games. I doubt there were too many that sat in the stands for over six hours like we did! We may have missed the first and last quarters, but we were there for the middle ten! Had the weather been nicer, there surely would have been a lot more people in the stands.

If you want our vote for the day’s MVPs, it was the four referees, who worked all three games.

GEFA did so much right in planning the Kickoff Classic and also on game day. It’s a shame that weather conditions were not in their favor in exposing their very worthwhile on-field product to more people. They certainly seemed to have upped their standards this year.

GUY & PAM “BLOG YEARS” FOOTBALL SCORECARD: 2021 – 2024

2024: 3 games. 2023: 67 games. 2022: 58 games. 2021: 59 games. Blog Years Total: 187 games

PIAA District 11 Schools (48 Different)

1-48. All 47 D11 football schools plus a second stadium for Executive Education, who played multiple home games at two locations (Muhlenberg College and Lafayette College) not already included for another D11 team.

D11 Alternative JV Game Sites (7 Different). 49. Allentown Central Catholic Vikings JV (Percy Ruhe Park), 50. Bethlehem Catholic Golden Hawks JV (High School), 51. Blue Mountain Eagles JV (East Field), 52. Freedom Patriots JV (FHS Turf Field), 53. Lehighton Indians JV (Old Football Stadium), 54. Nativity BVM Green Wave JV (High School), 55. Pocono Mountain West Panthers JV (Old/West Grass Field Stadium).

D11 Related–Special Events, Sub Regional, or Former EPC teams (6 Different). 56. Easton vs. Phillipsburg @ Lafayette College (Thanksgiving Day Game), 57. New Hope-Solebury Lions: D1-3A (Sub Regional), 58. Abington Heights Comets: D2-5A (Sub Regional), 59. Wyoming Valley West Spartans: D2-5A (Sub Regional), 60. Hazleton Cougars: D2-6A (Sub Regional) 61. Phillipsburg Stateliners (Former EPC). NOT YET (2): WILKES-BARRE WOLFPACK: 2022-23 D2-6A Subregion team, WILLIAMSPORT MILLIONAIRES: 2022-23 D4-6A subregion team.

All Star Games with D11 Players (6 Different). 62. Colonial vs. Schuylkill League All-Star Game, 63. Lehigh Valley All-Star Football Classic, 64. PSFCA East vs. West Small School All Star Game, 65. PSFCA East vs. West Big School All Star Game, 66. PSFCA Pennsylvania vs. Maryland Big 33 Game, 67. Schuylkill League All-Star Game.

Out of District Playoff Game Sites with D11 Teams (8 Different). 68. (G) Dunmore High School (Northern Lehigh Bulldogs), 69. Bald Eagle High School (Allentown Central Catholic Vikings), 70. Steelton-Highspire High School (Northern Lehigh Bulldogs), 71. (G) Governor Mifflin High School (Pleasant Valley Bears), 72. (G) Delaware Valley High School (Whitehall Zephyrs), 73. Northeast High School Supersite (Nazareth Blue Eagles), 74. Kutztown University (Northwestern Lehigh Tigers), 75. Cumberland Valley (Northwestern Lehigh Tigers).

PIAA Pennsylvania State Finals (6 Different). Both Hershey and Cumberland Valley. 76. 1A State Championship, 77. 2A State Championship, 78. 3A State Championship, 79. 4A State Championship, 80. 5A State Championship, 81. 6A State Championship.

(The 2022 Addition) NCAA D2 PSAC Colleges (11 Different). 82. Bloomsburg Huskies, 83. Clarion Golden Eagles, 84. East Stroudsburg Warriors, 85. Edinboro Fighting Scots, 86. Kutztown Golden Bears, 87. Lock Haven Bald Eagles, 88. Millersville Marauders, 89. Shippensburg Raiders, 90. Slippery Rock, The Rock, 91. West Chester Golden Rams, 92. Mansfield Mountaineers Sprint Football (former PSAC). NOT YET (6): PSAC CALIFORNIA VULCANS, PSAC GANNON GOLDEN KNIGHTS, PSAC INDIANA CRIMSON HAWKS, PSAC MERCYHURST LAKERS, PSAC SETON HILL GRIFFINS, PSAC SHEPHERD RAMS (WV).

(The 2023 Addition) NCAA Bowl Games / NCAA National Playoffs / NFL (7 Different*). 93. (G) D3 Delaware Valley Aggies, xx–D2 Kutztown University Golden Bears, xx–D2 Slippery Rock, The Rock, 94. (G) D3 Susquehanna River Hawks, 95. New York Jets, 96. New York Giants. 97. D1 Military Bowl. *Kutztown and Slippery Rock counted in PSAC section.

(The 2024 Addition) GEFA 8-Main Semi Pro (5 Different). 98. Kickoff Classic (Central Columbia High School), From 2023: 99. Dauphin County Comanche (Koons Park). 100. Snyder County Spartans (East Snyder Park), 101. Wilkes Barre Warriors (The Bog), 102. Lancaster Cyclone (Manor Middle School). NOT YET (13): COAL COUNTY NIGHTMARE, INDIANA COUNTY CRUSADERS, BEDFORD COUNTY BUFFALOES, WILLIAMSPORT WILDCATS, WILKES BARRE WARRIORS (EXETER LOCATION), SOMERSET COUNTY MINERS, MOSHANNON VALLEY VIKINGS, HAZLETON MUSTANGS, BERKS COUNTY RAPTORS, MONROEVILLE TITALS, DAUPHIN COUNTY COMANCHE (FOR 2024) KEYSTONE BOWL (KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY), ALL-STAR GAME (SOUTHERN COLUMBIA HIGH SCHOOL)

Other / Not Classified. NCAA D1 Rutgers Scarlet Knights, NCAA D 1AA Lehigh Mountain Hawks, WFA Harrisburg Havoc, Selinsgrove High School (PIAA Playoffs), Fleetwood High School Tigers.

Missed for Now. Cardinal O’Hara (North Schuylkill playoff game 2021), Berks Catholic (Pine Grove playoff game 2022), Trinity (Executive Education playoff game 2022), South Philly Supersite (Northwestern Lehigh playoff game 2022), Germantown Supersite (Whitehall playoff game 2022). Nazareth JV (played a game at the middle school in 2021 when the main field was used for a varsity soccer playoff game).

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