BROCKWAY, Pa. — Domenic Allegretto enjoyed the week leading up to the 7th Annual Frank Varischetti All-Star Game because he got the opportunity to get better acquainted with some of the players he considered arch rivals when he played football at Ridgway.
He also got well acquainted with the end zone during the game.
(Above, Redbank Valley grads Bryson Bain, left, and Marquese Gardlock)
Allegretto scored all three touchdowns for the North — a 43-yard punt return and a 2-yard run in the first half, and a 4-yard run in the third quarter to help his team to a 21-13 win over the South on a steamy Friday night at Frank Varischetti Field.
It was a big night for Ridgway running backs. Allegretto got a lot of help from former teammate Cam Marciniak, who led the North ground game with 115 yards on 11 carries.
“Being back there with Cam again was awesome,” said Allegretto, who was the North’s offensive MVP. “One more time with one of my best friends that I played multiple sports with. I couldn’t have done it without having one of the best lines that we could possibly put together. I mean, that was them up front just battling it out for us. It was unreal.”
Allegretto finished with 35 yards on 11 carries. The North found plenty of running room for most of the night, piling up 226 yards.
Some of that had to do with the running ability of quarterback Noah Lent. The Smethport grad gained 68 yards on 10 carries.
He split time at quarterback with St. Marys’ grad Christian Coudriet, who had 107 yards passing.
The game was won up front for the North.
After stumbling out of the gate with three fumbles — one lost — on its first 10 plays, the North started to get things going out of a power running set after falling behind 7-0.
“Early on we kept shooting ourselves in the foot,” Allegretto said. “We just kept saying, ‘Be physical. Be physical. Be physical. They’ll fall. They’ll fall. They’ll fall.’ And we started clicking. It’s hard when you only have one week of practice.”
The South was the team that looked crisp early.
Redbank Valley quarterback Bryson Bain — the only QB on the South’s roster — hooked up with a familiar face, Bulldog teammate Marquese Gardlock, on a 38-yard scoring pass less than two minutes into the game.
The duo connected again in the first half on a 56-yard touchdown, but it was called back by an illegal man downfield penalty.
Still, it was a chance for Bain and Gardlock to connect again on the football field.
Bain joined the Redbank Valley football team before his senior season and won the quarterback job. He and Gardlock connected 33 times for 569 yards and five touchdowns during the season. Bain threw for 2,253 yards and 30 TDs in his only campaign, helping Redbank to the District 9 Class A championship and a run to the PIAA title game.
“It was really cool to hook up with him again,” Bain said.
“At first, I didn’t think it was gonna get to me,” Gardlock said of the pass on a skinny post that hit him in stride for the touchdown. “Then I turned my head and it’s right there in my pocket. I was like, ‘Yeah. he’s been doing this all season.’ It was kind of normal at that point.”
Gardlock, who will play at California University of Pennsylvania in the fall, had a strong overall game — and showed of his athleticism after the TD with a back-flip celebration.
He broke up a pass, put a big hit on a receiver over the middle and also made a touchdown-saving tackle on a first-half North drive that at the time preserved the South’s 7-0 lead.
“A lot of people say I can’t tackle,” Gardlock said, faking a cough before calling out Redbank Valley head football coach Blane Gold. “I think I had more tackles today than I did all year.”
For Bain, it was the last time putting on the helmet.
He will play baseball at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“It was my first year and it’s very short-lived,” Bain said. “It was special to me and I’ll remember it the rest of my life. Just being able to hook up with my brother again for a touchdown was special. I’m gonna miss it. It holds a special place in my heart.”
Bain threw for 176 yards Friday night. Gardlock caught four passes for 74 yards.
Another Redbank star had a good night.
Joe Mansfield had two-and-a-half sacks and also caused a fumble for the South. Mansfield will play at Westminster this fall.
But the South couldn’t overcome the penalty bug.
The South had two touchdowns in the game called back by flags and had another pass that would have set them up inside the 1 called back by penalty as well.
(Karns City grad Luke Garing)
Still, Karns City’s Luke Garing gave the South glimmer of hope in the fourth quarter with a 5-yard touchdown run with 5:27 remaining in the game.
The point after failed and the South was down by eight.
Garing, the South’s offensive MVP, had a monster night. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound battering ram rushed for 105 yards on 19 bruising carries.
It was a throwback to last fall when Garing helped the Gremlins to the District 9 Class 2A title with 1,031 yards and 25 touchdowns.
“Yeah, it brought back some memories,” Garing said. “I had those big offensive linemen in front of me and they got a good push.”
Like Bain, this was Garing’s last time in football pads.
“It was special,” he said.
The North was driving with a little more than two minutes remaining when approaching thunderstorms ended the game.
For Allegretto, winning was nice, but that’s not entirely what this game was all about.
Twenty players received $1,000 scholarships each. Since the game began eight years ago, $101,000 in scholarship money has been awarded.
Allegretto said the game is also special because of the chance to mingle with players from other schools.
“You get to see the real side of them, not the athlete, cocky side,” Allegretto said, smiling. “They’d probably say the same thing about me. It was great. It was great making new friends. It was a lot of fun.”