Progressland players shine at Lezzer Classic|
Saturday, June 23, 2012
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
HUNTINGDON - Between the two of them, Clearfield's Beau Swales and Curwensville's Alex Holland racked up nearly 4,300 yards rushing during their senior season, each carrying the ball over 280 times as their respective team's workhorse tailbacks.
Friday night at Huntingdon's War Vets Field, the duo suited up for the North offense, creating a dream backfield like Progressland has probably never seen.
And they certainly did not disappoint.
The tandem accounted for 92 percent of the North's offense, rushing a combined 28 times for 217 yards and catching three passes - the only three completions of the night - for 75 yards.
"That was great knowing all you had to do was a little blocking and they'd run like that for you," said Curwensville's Todd Munchak, who started on the offensive line for the North. "It was awesome blocking for them. That's a pretty good backfield."
Swales scored all four North touchdowns on his way to a Lezzer Lumber Classic record 24 points and the Offensive MVP Award.
"The loss stinks, but I never thought I would do this well," Swales said. "You're playing with the best players in central PA. It was an honor to play this well. And to receive the MVP Award ... that's an honor."
It took a little getting used to sharing the load during Lezzer practice this week, but Swales said the two backfield titans hit it off well.
"First day of practice was a little awkward," he said. "I never really got to talk to (Holland) before. But he's an amazing guy. We got along great."
And they gave the South a taste of what was to come on the North's first two offensive plays of the game, as Swales ripped off a 12-yard run and Holland followed that with a 13-yard burst.
Holland seemed to take center stage early on, carrying the ball five times for 55 yards and catching two passes for 26 more in the first half.
But Swales did some damage in the first half as well, running eight times for 32 yards and a 1-yard score before catching a game-tying 49-yard touchdown pass on the last play of the second quarter.
The second half belonged to Swales as he carried nine times for 112 yards, including a 70-yard scamper on the third quarter's final play that got the North back in the game, 35-21.
"That was awesome," Swales said. "The line set it up great. There was a huge hole and I had no one around me."
Swales' 144 rushing yards tied him for the third highest total in Lezzer Classic history, and his three rushing touchdowns also tied a Classic record.
"We're used to that (kind of performance), but he did it in an all-star game, which proves how good he really is," Clearfield's Eric White said. "But we had a great offensive line, too, and sharing carries with Holland helped a lot, too."
"He's a real good running back and I got to block for him quite a bit," Holland said. "It was enjoyable."
While Swales and Holland had big nights on the field, several other Progressland players added to the privilege of playing in the game by walking away with $500 scholarships.
Munchak won the Jack Bailey Memorial Scholarship, while White was awarded the Lezzer Lumber Company Scholarship.
"Anything that helps with college is really nice, and $500 will help with books and more," White said.
"That was a good ending to everything," Munchak said. "We didn't win, but coming out here and playing was fun."
Clearfield's Corey Knepp won the Snappy's Convenience Market Scholarship and thought that was the perfect ending for a great week.
"It was a lot of fun to play with the best of the best," he said. "It was a great way to end the year. There's a lot of kids here. I wasn't expecting that (scholarship). It's nice."
West Branch's Luke Burnisky joined the parade of Progressland athletes winning scholarships by getting the Madalyn White Hubler Memorial Scholarship.
"The scholarship means a lot," Burnisky said. "It's pretty special, especially when you're coming from West Branch.
"And the game was awesome. It was totally different than a regular season game. I got more breaks, but I went as hard as I would in a regular game. It was special to be in it and to be with all the guys."