High school all-stars from Pennsylvania and Maryland face off for the PSFCA Big 33 Football Classic’s 60th Anniversary game on June 17 at Landis Field

Dauphin County Commissioners work with organizers to ensure historic game continues

HARRISBURG, PA (March 29, 2017) – High school all-stars from Pennsylvania and Maryland will compete once again at the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association (PSFCA) Big 33 Football Classic 60th anniversary game on June 17 after the Dauphin County Commissioners work with organizers to save the historic contest.

“We knew that we could not allow this great tradition to falter,’’ said Dauphin County Board of Commissioners’ Chairman Jeff Haste. “Not only is the Big 33 important in its own right, but is also important to our hotels, restaurants and many other businesses that benefit from visitors who attend game and the events surrounding it.’’

For tickets and more information about the game, which will kick off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 17 at Central Dauphin School District’s Landis Field, go to www.big33.org.

Honorary chairs for this year’s game are Bishop McDevitt graduate Noah Spence, defensive end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Steelton-Highspire School District graduate Jordan Hill, defensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks; Bobby Watson Sr., Steelton-Highspire graduate, 1960 Big 33 team, University of Tennessee player and Hershey High School coach for 35 years; and Steve Keim, Red Land High School, 1991 Big 33, North Carolina State University player and General Manager of the Arizona Cardinals. During the game, there will also be a tribute to Harrisburg High School graduate Adrian Robinson, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers before his death in 2015, and former Big 33 executive director Dave Trimbur, who passed away late last year. 

After the financially troubled Big 33 Scholarship Foundation closed its doors last year, the commissioners pledged $100,000 in tourism dollars, funded from hotel room taxes, to ensure the game would continue. The commissioners worked with the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches (PSFCA, which took over the Big 33 Football Classic.

“We could not have done this without the Dauphin County Commissioners,’’ said Garry Cathell, executive director of the PSFCA. “I don’t know if the game would’ve happened this year without their support. We are excited to be working together to continue this great game.’’

The commissioners and Big 33 organizers also thanked the Central Dauphin School District for agreeing to host the game at Landis Field. 

“The Big 33 is a big deal for our region and we were committed to making sure this proud tradition continues,’’ said Commissioner Mike Pries. “Tourism spending brings in $2.3 billion every year, and events like the Big 33 draw visitors to our area and let them see all we have to offer.’’

PSFCA and the commissioners agree that Landis Field is a great place to hold the annual football classic. 

“The Central Dauphin School District is pleased to serve as the host site for the 60th anniversary of the nationally acclaimed Big 33 football game on June 17,” said Central Dauphin School Board President Ford Thompson. “When we were approached by the executive director of the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association as to this possibility, it quickly became apparent to the Board of School Directors and Administration that we would be honored to serve as the host.”

Many high school players who took part past Big 33 games have gone on to professional careers in the NFL. Big 33 alums have played in the last 51 Super Bowls.

Additionally, money raised from the game and the events surrounding it support the Buddy program, which connects kids with special needs with all-star athletes in football, baseball, and beyond.

“We, and all the buddy families, are thrilled that children will continue to have buddies and have the incredible ‘Buddy’ experience this year,” said Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico whose son, Owen, has participated in the Buddy program for years. 

Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III added that this year’s football game will include a family fun and awareness festival from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sat., June 17 at Landis Field. Several county departments and community organizations will offer fun, educational activities for children of all ages, with an emphasis on drug and alcohol prevention.  

“As someone who was involved in high school sports, I understand how much the kids look forward to events like the Big 33,’’ Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III said. “Beyond the game, the work the foundation does helping children with special needs and the overall benefit to our area made saving this great event and organization a priority for the board.’’

For more information about the PSFCA Big 33 Football Classic and the Buddy program, please visit www.big33.org. Tickets for the football game are expected to go on sale May 1.