By EMMETT MCCALL
Yes, Pennsylvania, there is an All-State football team this year.
But it won't be what you're used too!
With calendars having already been turned to 2010, and no All-State team having been released yet by the Associated Press, the TIMES NEWS has been fielding inquiries about when and if it will run this year.
A check with the AP revealed that the team will be coming out shortly, but there will be a change this year.
"In most states, the Associated Press doesn't select an All-State team," said Sally Carpenter Hale, the AP Bureau Chief for Pennsylvania and New Jersey. "It's the sportswriters from across the individual states that pick the teams. The AP then distributes the team to our member newspapers.
"We've decided to do that in Pennsylvania this year. We've asked Rod Frisco to put the team together. It just makes sense because we really don't cover scholastic events with our people."
Frisco should be a familiar name to most high school sports fans. He had spent the last 25 years as a sports writer for the Harrisburg Patriot News, predominantly covering football and wrestling. Frisco accepted a buyout from the paper and retired as a fulltime writer on Dec. 31.
He was a natural to be put in charge of the this year's All-State team since he has been a major part of the selection process that the Associated Press has used for about the last 15 years.
Frisco said that his initial year heading the selection process has been both hectic and daunting.
"In the past, the Associated Press sent ballots out to all its members to come up with nominations for the team. Then the list of nominations was reviewed and the teams were selected," said Frisco. "Because there was no organization or structure in place to handle that nomination process this year, I've had to try and contact all the daily newspapers across the state to get nominations from their area.
"So its been more or less a one-man operation on my part trying to make sure that all corners of the state are covered."
Frisco said that the late end to this year's football season (Dec. 19) and the fact that he had plenty of loose ends to tie up at the Patriot News before leaving there, has pushed the team back a little later than normal.
"Normally the team is released in late December," said Frisco. "But that just wasn't going to be possible this year.
"Right now, I made contacts with most newspapers in the state. By the weekend, I hope to have all the nominations in and then I will spend a few days going through the list and compiling the teams. I will get it to the Associated Press on Wednesday for distribution to newspapers for Thursday, Jan.14."
Frisco said he will have teams in each of the four classes A, AA, AAA, AAAA and they will all be released the same day. He is relatively sure that he will have first and second teams in each class, but can't guaranteed that until all the nominations have been received.
"I would say I'm about 90 percent sure that we will have two teams in each class," he said. "That's because so far, the response I've received from newspapers I've contacted has been great. If that continues we should have enough nominations to have first and second teams."
Another thing that will be different this year is that there will be no state wide story to go with the selections.
"I will just be sending out the teams along with the Player of the Year and Coach of the Year in each class," said Frisco. "It will be up to the individual newspapers to decide if they want to write a story to go with it or not."
As far as the future of the All-State team is concerned, Frisco doesn't know if he will be asked to do it next year or not. What he hopes is that it will be a lot easier.
"Hopefully in the spring we will be able to get together and prepare a game plan on how the team will be selected in the future," said Frisco. "We need a much more formal and comprehensive plan. That will make things much easier."
For now though, Frisco is pretty much on his own.
"I guess I'm the one who is going to be taking the heat if people don't like the team," he laughed. "I will be trying to get as much input as possible from as many people as possible when finalizing the teams. But in the end, I'm going to be the one putting it together."
So fear not area high school football fans. The All-State team might be different this year, but it's release is just around the corner.