ALTOONA, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Association (PSFCA) has announced that Clarion Area Bobcat coach Larry Wiser will be the head coach for the West Squad in the 2019 East/West Game to be held at Mansion Park in Altoona on Sunday, May 5.
(Photo by Kyle Yates www.facebook.com/YatesPhoto)
“It is an honor to represent the state football coaches and Clarion Area football by coaching in this game,” Wiser said.
The East/West Game is dubbed the Pennsylvania Bowl, as it pits players from across the entire commonwealth and is the second most prestigious All-Star Game in the state second only to the Big 33 Classic. The Big 33 currently features Pennsylvania versus Maryland. The East/West and Big 33 games are Pennsylvania’s only statewide all-star games.
The first East/West Game was held in June 2001 at Mansion Park in Altoona after members of the PSFCA approached the Allegheny Mountains Convention & Visitors Bureau to help organize and produce a sister game to the Big 33 Game.
“The Big 33 Game features the top players in the state against players from Maryland,” the PSFCA website says. “Unfortunately, only 34 players can be selected to represent Pennsylvania. In a state with a rich football tradition, many quality players are left out. Thus, the PSFCA East/West All-Star Game was conceived giving the honor to play in a statewide, prestigious all-star game to 68 more players.”
Wiser, who completed his 30th season as the Bobcat mentor, is the All-Time winningest coach in the Little 7-12/KSAC and second All-Time in District 9. His coaching record stands at 223-102-1 (including this past season in the newly formed D9 League).
Wiser is a member of the PSFCA and the Central Pennsylvania Football Coaches Association (CPFCA) Halls of Fame, being inducted to both in 2011. He was on an assistant coach on the 2010 West team in the 2010 East/West Game and on the 2016 Pennsylvania Big 33 team, the only KSAC coach so honored. He was the PSFCA District Nine Coach of the Year for 2009 and 2017 and CPFCA Coach of the Year for 2013
Two of his Bobcat players Kyle Cathcart (2002, didn’t play due to injury) and Nate McClaine (2004, starting tackle West Squad]) were selected to the East/West Game. Coach Wiser nearly had another player on the West Team, as Zak Bauer was the first alternate for the West in 2018.
Wiser also had a hand in two Big 33 players as a Bobcat assistant – Chuck Ruslavage (1981) and John Marshall (1983).
A Big 33 nominee for Bald Eagle High School in 1967, Wiser has had a number of players who were nominees also. In addition to the five players mentioned above, Brad Larson (2000), Micah McElhattan (2000), Cody Hearst (2014) and Damien Slike (2014) were also nominees.
Three Bobcats under Coach Wiser’s head coaching mentorship were Division I College selections, B. J. Spozio (U. S. Naval Academy), Tyler McMeans (University of Miami) and T. J. Armstrong (Old Dominion). McMeans was on the Chicago Bears Practice Squad and was a starting offensive lineman for the Berlin Thunder of N.F.L. Europe.
Wiser was an assistant coach for the North Squad in the CPFCA Lezzer Lumber Classic in 2009 and 2010 and the head coach in 2014. He was the head coach for the KSAC Team in the 2017 Varischetti All-Star Game in Brockway. He has had a huge number of players in both those games.
The Bobcats, under Wiser, were KSAC Champs in 1999, 2000, 2004 (Co-Champs), 2005 (Tri-Champs), 2011-14 (Small School Champs) and 2017 (Large School Champs). The Cats won three District 9 Class 1A Titles in 1997, 2009 and 2013 and a District 9 Class 2A Title in 2017. The Bobcats reached the PIAA semifinals in 2013 and the quarterfinals in 2017.
He has been on the Player Selection Committee for a number of years and said the new technology makes it easier to evaluate players. Coach Wiser selects linebackers.
According to Wiser, the West will have two double-days practices on the Sunday before Easter and the Sunday following and only five practices in all. He said he never put a team together in so small a time frame before. And that he and the assistant coaches are currently contacting the players.
The West Assistants include Brad Orlando (McDowell), Greg Page (Homer-Center, Ron Butschle (Seneca Valley), Don Fyfe (Shade) and John Delonne (Penn Hills).
Editor’s Note: A version of this story originally appeared on ClarionSportszone.com and was used with permission