Parkland all-stars contribute some big plays in McDonald's Classic
Matthew Costello is familiar with producing electrifying returns in the kicking game.
The scene of Thursday's 2013 McDonald's Lehigh Valley Football Classic at Nazareth's Andrew Leh Stadium was a little different than one from Parkland's regular season. But that didn't stop Costello from pulling one last trick out of his back pocket, and reminding everyone of that ability he possessed just months earlier.
Composed of players from Lehigh, Carbon, and Monroe counties, the Red team struggled to gain any momentum offensively for the game's first half.
But that's when one blink-of-an-eye play changed all of that.
Costello took a punt at Red's 22-yard line and scampered down the left sideline, weaving in between and around defenders, for a 51-yard return to Gold's 27-yard line. Five plays later, Red got its first offensive points of the game with a touchdown that cut the deficit to 13-8.
"I felt used to it," said Costello, who's looking to spend a semester at Lehigh Carbon Community College and then transfer to West Chester University or Lock Haven University to play Division II football. "Back in the playoffs against Delaware Valley, I took one back on a kick return. And the first game against Del Val, I returned a punt return. So I'm used to receiving punt returns and kick returns. I felt confident [and] brought it down the field today. I tried to take to it to the house."
Fellow Trojans Andrew Fuehrer, Paul Tajiri, Xavier Roden, David Wong, Ryan Dupre, and Michael Unger all saw plenty of action in the 43rd annual event too, and will carry the memories they gathered for many years to come.
While a winner had to be crowned, the game was not about the final score. Players had the unique opportunity of playing in a game for charity, teaming up with unfamiliar individuals for four quarters, and were able to meet a bunch of new faces over the past couple weeks.
"Just getting around and meeting people from the Lehigh Valley from up top, people that we don't even play against," said Costello. "It was an honor to play with these guys."
The Gold team, made up of players from Northampton County, Palisades, and Phillipsburg (NJ), held on for the 13-8 win
"Playing with a bunch of athletes is always good to get experience with them and play with them," said Costello. "Like my team from Parkland, that was a family and for these two weeks, I made a family with the McDonald's All-Star team."
Red took an early 2-0 lead in the first quarter after two Trojans, Tajiri and Wong, helped secure a safety. The two forced Gold quarterback Ryan Dailey back 19 yards, and forced the former Wilson quarterback into his own end zone with no room to escape. Fuehrer caught one pass for 10 yards for the Red team.
Gold responded with 13 consecutive points though, and led 13-2 at halftime. Phillipsburg's Alex Martin scampered 37 yards for the first score, and Wilson's Ryan Dailey found Nazareth's Anthony Gattaniella with 30 seconds remaining in the half.
Northern Lehigh's Dan Marsh scored on a quarterback sneak midway through the third to make it 13-8 after a failed two-point conversion, but a number of Red drives late failed to produce any more points.