Log In

Reset Password

Gold edges Red in McDonald’s Classic

NAZARETH - Football has given Blaec Saeger more than just wins and losses.

The game has given the Pleasant Valley mentor a lifetime worth of relationships and experiences.

Saeger hoped to provide another memory as he led the Red squad in Thursday’s annual McDonald’s Lehigh Valley All-Star Football Classic.

As it often does, the game offers a final send-off for seniors competing in their last game, and a chance to reflect on the impact the game has had on them both on and off the field.

While the final score added up to a 21-20 victory for the Gold team, the true measure of the game goes beyond winning and losing.

“It’s all true,” Saeger said when reflecting on the message he delivered to his team after the game. “I met my wife because of football, most of my best friends because of football, my son played college football, my daughter is the water girl. This game has given a lot to me, and I’m just happy I can give something back, and hopefully these kids got something from it.”

It’s an annual tradition that honors senior players and cheerleaders from the Lehigh Valley and Poconos at Nazareth High School, with all proceeds going to charity.

And it doesn’t take long for the competitive drive that the players displayed throughout the season and their careers to kick in.

With his team down 21-7, Northwestern’s Dalton Clymer scored from two yards out to help the Red team make it 21-14 with 4:21 remaining in the third period. The drive started at the Gold 28-yard line after the Red team recovered a fumble.

Down by two scores, the Red squad pulled out all the stops coming out of the locker room to start the second half. Clymer got it started by taking a pitch in the backfield before attempting a pass on the first play from scrimmage.

“It was just fun,” Clymer said of the play. “We had to throw something in there. I was happy to try. It represents it perfectly. It’s meant to be a fun game, with those trick plays and things like that. Right before we walked back out, he (Saeger) said, ‘Listen, we’re going to run Special on the first play.’ And I kind of laughed. But we were excited to do it, excited to try it.”

The Gold team marched to the Red 22-yard line on its next possession, but a 39-yard field goal try with 11:44 left in the fourth quarter bounced off the left post.

The Red squad took over and marched 80 yards, with Parkland’s Luke Spang going in from seven yards out with 7:10 left in the game. The Red team went for a two-point conversion, but the Gold defense came up with a stop to hang on to a 21-20 lead.

“It’s just amazing to be out here and help raise the money for the Ronald McDonald House down in Philadelphia,” said Northern Lehigh’s Brody Dye. “We just all had a great time out here. We had a couple of mistakes, but it was a really fun game.”

That perspective, provided by Dye and his coach, was the focus of the night for many players.

“You meet so many guys that you don’t know and haven’t played against, then you meet the Colonial League guys that you’ve played against for the last four years,” said Palmerton’s Zack Anthony. “It’s an honor to play with these guys. I’ve made some really special memories, and I’ll never forget this game.”

The Red team forced a punt after Spang’s touchdown, and took over at its own 19-yard line with 4:37 to play. But the Gold held on, eventually getting a sack on fourth down with under two minutes to play.

A 34-yard touchdown pass from Pen Argyl’s Bradley Rissmiller to Northampton’s Tristin Pinnock gave the Gold a 7-0 lead with 6:17 left in the first quarter. The Red answered on its next drive with a 20-yard connection from Executive Charter Academy’s Kristopher Cruz to teammate Damon Young with 1:26 left in the opening quarter.

Notre Dame Green Pond’s Danny Darno hit Easton’s Jordan Alston on the first play of the second quarter to make it 14-7 Gold. A 44-yard pitch-and-catch from Rissmiller to Notre Dame’s Josh Ludlow gave the Gold a 21-7 lead with 7:13 to play in the first half.


... Saeger was joined by Bear defensive coordinator Brian Miller. Having multiple PV coaches on the staff was something players appreciated in the last game. “That was definitely the best part of the entire game,” said the Bears’ Alex Ecker. “Having Saeger as the head coach, Miller as the defensive coach, it was almost like we were playing the regular season again. I wouldn’t have asked for anyone else to be the coach.”


... Philadelphia Eagles’ player Nakobe Dean was the honorary captain for the game and conducted the pregame coin toss.


... The following area players were selected to the Red squad:

• Northern Lehigh - Jack Tosh, Bailey Smith, Jackson Van Norman, Sam Frame, Jr. and Brody Dye

• Northwestern - Dalton Clymer

• Palmerton - Emilio Gonzalez, Alexander Konze, Clayton Christman and Zack Anthony

• Pleasant Valley - Valentino Byers-Robinson, Aaron Rehrig, Alex Ecker, Connor Smith and Angelo Syracuse.

Pleasant Valley mentor Blaec Saeger (center) served as the head coach for the Red team at the McDonald's L.V. All-Star Football Classic Thursday. Saeger talks to his team during a timeout. PATRICK MATSINKO/TIMES NEWS