BROCKWAY — Brookville’s Bryan Dworek said he practiced one-hand catches during receiving drills.
After Friday’s exhibition at the Fourth Annual Frank Varischetti All-Star game, nobody is doubting that those drills didn’t pay off as he helped lead the old Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference to a 20-7 win over the old Allegheny Mountain League.
In the closing seconds of the first quarter, Punxsutawney quarterback Dylan Ishman dropped back to pass and floated a ball towards the near sideline that appeared to sailing over his receivers head as AML cornerback Daunte Allegretto of Ridgway looked to come down with the interception.
Instead, Dworek stretched out with his right arm and made a highlight-reel one-handed catch stayed on his feet to race down the sideline for a 33-yard gain.
“That’s probably No. 1,” said Dworek, who was asked on Monday if that was his best among the many in the Raiders’ all-time leading receiver’s career. “I just did a 5-yard hitch and when the ball was in the air, I didn’t think I could get it, but I just stuck my hand up and it stuck.”
Practice makes perfect, so to speak.
“I practice one-handers a lot to be honest,” said Dworek, who was also one of the 20 $1,000 scholarship winners announced at halftime.
“That catch was unbelievable,” former Clarion-Limestone coach and KSAC head coach Dave Eggleton said. “It looked maybe better on film and the screen pass, I didn’t know how many kids he made miss. The combination of speed and athleticism he showed once the ball was in his hands, he had a remarkable game.”
After a one-yard rush on the second play of the drive, Ishman looked to connect with Dworek yet again, as he fired a pass to him in the right flat.
This time Dworek made the catch and weaved around several AML defenders as he broke free and outran everyone for a 60-yard touchdown.
Dworek finished the game with five catches for 178 yards and two touchdowns. He was named the KSAC’s Offensive MVP.
“It was a lot of fun and I’ll definitely miss the sport, but it was a good experience to end on,” said Dworek, who will do track and field at Slippery Rock University.
Eggleton had flashbacks to his Lions’ 2017 encounter with Dworek, who caught seven passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns in the Raiders’ 60-52 shootout win.
“It was definitely nice not game-planning against him,” Eggleton said. “We wanted to get him the ball as many ways as we could and he made the AML basically change their defense. We had good matchups elsewhere after that because of Bryan.”
Dworek’s 60-yarder from Ishman put the KSAC up 14-0 by the end of the first quarter. Ishman threw another TD pass from 14 yards out to Clarion’s Sam Minich to put the KSAC up 20-0 by halftime. Minich’s twin brother Logan scored the first touchdown on a 2-yard run in the first quarter.
From there, the KSAC defense kept things in check as they limited the AML to 133 yards of offense compared to its own 394 yards.
Clarion-Limestone’s Ayden Wiles ran for 52 yards on seven carries while Redbank Valley’s Hunter Wiles and Travis Crawford had a couple of carries, Wiles going for 17 yards on two carries with Crawford losing three yards on his attempt.
Brookville’s Cabe Park ran for seven yards on two carries.
Ishman completed 7 of 15 passes for 199 yards. Clarion’s Archer Mills completed 1 of 2 passes for 12 yards and Redbank Valley’s Keaton Kahle completed his only pass for 35 yards.
Hunter Wiles caught one pass for 12 yards while Sam Minich caught three passes for 50 yards. Punxsutawney’s Carter Newcome had the other reception for six yards.
The AML looked to break through early in the third quarter as it went on a 16-play, 81-yard drive to open the second half before stalling inside the KSAC 10-yard line and turning the ball over on downs.
The KSAC then was moving the ball well before facing a 3rd-and-21 from just shy of midfield as Ishman dropped back and looked to find a receiver in the flat for a screen.
Instead, Brockway’s Garrett McClintick stepped in front of the throw to make an interception as he took it back 42 yards for a pick-six to get the AML on the board.
The play led to McClintick being named the AML Defensive Player of the Game. Puhala then converted the extra-point to bring the score to 20-7 with 40.2 seconds left to play in the third quarter.
Brockway quarterback Peter Downer was the AML’s Offensive MVP after completing 7 of 15 passes for 46 yards and running for 14 yards on 10 carries.
Both teams were held scoreless in the fourth quarter.
The KSAC held the AML to just 133 total yards, 74 on the gourd and 59 through the air, while totaling 394 yards of offense itself with 246 passing yards and 148 on the ground.
Sam Minich was the KSAC’s Defensive MVP.
“That was our goal all week, we thought we had the guys in place that could do it and you can’t say enough about the assistant coaches I had all week,” Clarion-Limestone and KSAC All-Star head coach Dave Eggleton said of his team’s defensive performance. “Coach (Dave) Louder on the defensive side and coach (Nick) Nosker and offensively Dan Reed, Doug Knepp and Mike Ferguson.”
“I had a great staff put in place and they did the work tonight, I just enjoyed myself and played the head coach role which was great.”
“It was a great group of kids and we had a great time all week long. I said to this many people this week, I think there has been years past that we didn’t get the guys who should’ve been out here but this year they came and showed up big and I can’t say enough about the effort all week and the effort tonight.”
At halftime, 20 players were awarded the $1,000 scholarships. The other players from the KSAC were Clarion’s Archer Mills, Moniteau’s Bobby Matthews, Clarion’s Logan Minich, C-L’s Ayden Wiles, Karns City’s Bradon Bastian, Clarion’s Sam Minich and Karns City’s Stephen Covington.
For the AML, it was Curwensville’s Avery Francisco, Ridgway’s Parker Rohr, Otto-Eldred’s Chris Connelly, Bradford’s Donny Pattison, Brockway’s Leyton Mangiantini, Ridgway’s Cole Secco, Ridgway’s Daunte Allegretto and Brockway’s Zane Puhala.
Other area players to see action last Friday were C-L’s Jim Gunning, Matt Coleman, Drew Beichner and David Wiles; Redbank Valley’s Hunter Martz and Blaney Brooks; and Union/A-C Valley’s Joe Dehart and Chase Kline.
Courier-Express sports writer Craig Moyer contributed to this story.