The annual clash between Team Maryland and its PA rivals will not take place in 2020

by Gary Adornato

The Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association (PSFCA), which operates the Big 33 Classic, an annual senior football all-star game currently featuring the top college bound football players from Pennsylvania and Maryland, has been cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has shut down most of the sports world since early March.

The announcement was made by Big 33 Executive Director Gary Cathell in a letter (posted below) to coaches, participants and fans of the event, released on Tuesday.

On March 2nd, the Baltimore Touchdown Club (BTC) and the Maryland Football Coaches Association (MFCA), which manage Team Maryland, held a press conference at the Baltimore Ravens’ Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills where they introduced Maryland’s 2020 roster, which was set to begin practicing later this month in preparation for the contest which was scheduled for Memorial Day (May 25th) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The game would have been the seventh consecutive meeting between Maryland and Pennsylvania, since Maryland began its second stint in the series 2014. Since its return, Maryland has gone 2-4 with its last victory coming in 2018.

“The MFCA and BTC completely agree with the decision made by the Big 33 Executive Board,” said Scott Ripley, the Team Director for Team Maryland. “It is about protecting our players and fans. I am truly disappointed for the players selected to this years team. They will be missing out on something that they would never forget in a lifetime. We wish them total success in college this coming fall. I am also positive that the Big 33 will return next Memorial Day even bigger and stronger than before.”

This would have been the 63rd annual Big 33 which has the unique tradition of having fielded at least one participant from its game in every Super Bowl ever played, including five players (two from the San Francisco 49ers and three from the Kansas City Chiefs) who participated in Super Bowl LIV in February.

April 14, 2020

Dear Coaches, Participants, Sponsors and Fans,

It is with deep regret that the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association (PSFCA) must cancel all of our major events surrounding Memorial Day Weekend 2020, just weeks away. These public events include the Big 33 Football Classic, East West Game, a first-ever PSFCA High School Combine, USA Football 1st Down Clinic, Military Murph Competition, and the Big 33 Fan Experience.

Due to the uncertainty of the weeks ahead with the Coronavirus constraints placed upon each individual, our schools, families, and the organizations and businesses that help make this holiday weekend one of the best in the country, we cannot move forward in holding these events or our exciting football games. Our top priority is the health, safety and welfare of all of our participants, families, workers, sponsors, and fans.

Currently, the PSFCA is contacting all entities associated with the game and festivities. We are also exploring ways in which we can still honor all of these highly talented 2020 athletes – players, cheerleaders and buddies. We want each of them to know that they should be extremely proud to have been chosen and that they are now part of our amazing Big 33 and special East West families. In addition, our best wishes go out to all graduating student athletes across this great Commonwealth and our country, who are now unable to finish their high school careers as planned. May these families, coaches, volunteers, schools and communities remember the significant contributions made and embrace all of the memorable athletic moments that live on, as we all team up to combat this pandemic.

Again, we want to remind everyone that we are in unprecedented waters, which warrant critical measures to protect everyone’s health, safety and welfare. Please know that our thoughts and prayers remain with each of you during these challenging times. In advance, thank you for your patience and ongoing support. We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to all of our healthcare professionals, EMS teams, law enforcement, military, farmers, grocery retailers, media friends, leaders, food banks, government officials, and so many other critical members of our workforce who are working and continuing to support, feed, and protect families across our great state and country!

We are looking forward to planning the 2021 games and festivities, and know that they will be better than ever! The Big 33 is such a storied tradition, and the PSFCA will uphold that for all to enjoy! Please stay healthy and safe!

Garry Cathell, Executive Director
PSFCA-Big 33