A week from tonight, the 29th annual Jack Arvin Classic will take place at Girard’s Arrowhead Stadium with kickoff set for 7:00 p.m. The All-Star football game is sponsored by the Mahoning Valley Coaches Association and showcases the best high school football players from Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana Counties.
Despite recently resigning as Liberty’s head football coach, Brian Jones is set as the coach of the Trumbull County squad, while Lowellville’s Jeff D’Altorio will lead the Mahoning/Columbiana County All-stars. Jones is coming off a very successful 9-3 playoff season with the Leopards, and D’Altorio led the Rockets to a strong second half finish with a 4-6 mark.
“For me, the representation of the Mahoning Valley with its history is unbelievable, and for me to have the opportunity to coach these fine young men, and they’re good, me and my coaching staff are really excited about it. We’re real excited to have the opportunity to coach these young men,” D’Altorio said.
“It’s a great honor. You know, I get to represent Fitch and get to come out with a great group of guys. It’s definitely fun. The coaching staff is great, and I just can’t wait to play the game,” Fitch’s Matt Futkos added.
Futkos continued, “We played a lot of those guys in Trumbull, Mahoning throughout the year. Now, to team up with these Mahoning guys and play Trumbull, it’s pretty cool. I like it. It means a lot. There’s tons of tradition. It kind of brings back a little bit of the Steel Valley.
“It’s a very good honor. There’s only a select few that get it, meaning that I represent everybody at the school, my parents, my friends, on and off the field. So I feel respected and honored to play on the field,” Lowellville’s Ryan Previtte remarked.
D’Altorio made it clear that even though it is an opportunity to showcase the players, they are playing to win. ”I can honestly tell you that we are coming out to win the game. There are certain rules and guidelines we have to follow that are set forth by the Mahoning Valley Coaches Association as far as you can’t blitz, no blocked punts and things like that, but we are coming out to win the game.”
He also praised his team for how quickly they have picked up the system that has been put in place. “Within three days, we had everything in. When you have this high caliber of athletes, these guys picked up on stuff so fast, and, for me as a coach, it is awesome, and our coaching staff is real excited about that,” D’Altorio remarked.
The game will feature players from the biggest schools in the area such as Austintown Fitch and Boardman, to the smallest schools like Leetonia and Lowellville, and many others in between, which you may think would lead to some miss-matches, but not according to Coach D’Altorio.
“I tell you what, the kids, they get along great with one another. But obviously the size is a factor, but as far as when it comes down to playing, and playing hard, I think the ITCL, our kids are doing a great job. They have a lot of heart.”
“It’s quite an experience. It’s fun,” Previtte said. “Seeing a lot of bigger kids, knowing your not the biggest kid out there on the team and playing against people that match-up or are better than you, and it puts you at a great test.”