By Anthony SanFilippo, Delaware County Times
June 14, 2008
Bart Tanski, a quarterback from the Cleveland suburbs and a Bowling Green recruit and Zac Dysert, an Ada, Ohio native headed for Miami (Ohio) University came to Hershey for the Big 33 game expecting something sweet.
Instead, everywhere they turned they got a sour taste in their mouths, courtesy of a couple of spoilers from Delaware County.
Delco’s two representatives in the 51st annual football classic – Cardinal O’Hara’s Mark Wedderburn and Pete Massaro of Marple Newtown – were bookend defensive linemen who were in the Ohio backfield all night.
Wedderburn finished the game with seven tackles, three for losses, including a sack, and a pair of swatted passes to go along with countless pressures while Massaro had a key sack of Dysert early in the game thwarting an Ohio drive.
The Pennsylvania squad won for the third straight year, 31-16, and improved to 12-9 in the 21 games that have matched the best high school seniors from Pennsylvania against the best high school seniors from Ohio.
Overall Pennsylvania is 21-14-1 against teams from other states in the history of the exhibition game. Fifteen times the game was played between the Eastern and Western Pennsylvania schools.
Massaro was especially pumped about the victory following what he deemed was a bit of disrespect from the Ohio side.
When the teams arrived in Hershey and were introduced prior to their first practice, the Ohio players were taunting the Pennsylvania athletes.
Massaro said that just managed to get the Pennsylvania squad fired up immediately and fueled their spirited defensive effort.
“We just wanted to bury them, and we did,” said Massaro, who was swamped by autograph hounds after the game.
“Last week we would have had him in detention for graffiti,” said his Marple coach Ray Gionta. “Now, he’s a superstar.”
Massaro spearheaded that defensive effort early in the game, wreaking havoc in the Ohio backfield, and after he sacked Dysert, the Pennsylvania special teams blocked an Ohio field goal attempt, one of the Midwestern group’s best chances at a score in the first half.
Later in the second quarter, Massaro played contain on the right side, and forced Ohio halfback Michael Shaw II out of bounds and in the process tackled him through a wall of advertisements on the far sideline.
“They started me off at tackle, and I wasn’t as comfortable, but once they moved me outside, I felt good,” Massaro said. “When I was out there I went against one kid headed to Florida State and another headed to Ohio State, so I now know I’m right there with them.”
Meanwhile Wedderburn, who will be a tight end at Penn State, played a familiar defensive role in the Big 33 game to the one he played for coach Dan Algeo at Cardinal O’Hara roving defensive end.
Watching this game, it would be hard to imagine Wedderburn was not going to be a defensive player, because he was superb.
The 6-6, 240-pound Wedderburn kept the Ohio quarterbacks scrambling, forcing the visiting squad to turn to a more run-oriented offense in the first half.
In the second half he was an even bigger beast, knocking down passes, sacking quarterbacks, and busting up screen passes.
“I hope (Penn State) coach (Joe) Paterno wasn’t watching the game,” said Wedderburn.”Because I want to play on the offensive side of the ball.”
While the week was fun and he got to take part in the game with six other Penn State recruits – including Massaro – he needs to focus on what will be his job with the Nittany Lions, namely blocking blitzing linebackers and catching hot route passes.
His catching ability was evident during his senior season at O’Hara where he hauled in 26 catches for 386 yards and one touchdown.
As for blocking, that’s what he needs to work on most, considering the level of talent he’ll face in the Big 10.
Wedderburn said he hopes to add 15 pounds to his playing weight in preparation for the rigors of major Division I football.
“Last year I thought I improved my blocking,” said Wedderburn. “I hit the weight room and worked on it, but there are a lot of big dudes in the Big 10 and I need to continue to improve there.”
He’ll have time to master that art. Wedderburn will arrive at State College no higher than fourth on the tight-end depth chart behind Andrew Quarless, Mickey Shuler Jr. and redshirt freshman Andrew Szczerba, the latter of which caught five passes in the spring Blue-White game.