---- — By The Daily Item
HERSHEY -- In a few days, 34 of the best high school football players in Pennsylvania will face their counterparts from Maryland during the Big 33 Football Classic in Hershey on Saturday.
Area high school football fans may recognize someone crouched on the defensive line, ready to blast out of his stance and into the eyes of the quarterback.
Mount Carmel senior and Northwestern recruit Eric Joraskie will be looking to wreck havoc from his defensive end spot in the same manner which he did for the Red Tornadoes. Playing against high-quality competition one last time before heading to Northwestern should help Joraskie to prepare for Big Ten football.
Joraskie was named to the Class AA Pennsylvania all-state team on the defensive side of the ball this season for the second straight year. However, Joraskie has shown that he can play both ways equally well.
In a District 4 Class AA semifinal win over Montoursville this year, Joraskie scored from one yard out in the second quarter before catching a pass from Zack Wasilewski for another touchdown.
This weekend, Joraskie could be trying to shut down a quaterback that he has a chance to see plenty of in the coming years in Maryland commit Shane Cockerville. Maryland will join the Big Ten for the 2014 season.
For the first time since 1992, Maryland will be back in the Big 33 Classic and will be looking to erase any possible lingering memories of the state's last trip into the Keystone State, a 38-0 loss. Maryland was limited to 33 yards of total offense in the first half of that game, in the final edition of an eight-game series that Pennsylvania grabbed 6-2.
With Maryland returning, the 20-year Pennsylvania versus Ohio Big 33 run has ended. In 2012, Ohio erased a 14-point deficit in a 17-second span before winning 24-21 in overtime on a 39-yard field goal. A one-yard quarterback sneak cut the Pennsylvania lead to seven late in the fourth quarter before a fumble on the ensuing kickoff that was recovered in the end zone tied the game. The Ohio defense forced six Pennsylvania turnovers that ultimately was the Keystone State's demise.
Despite the loss, area fans did have something to be proud of as one of its own. Bloomsburg quarterback Blake Rankin grabbed Pennsylvania MVP honors, as the Rutgers recruit completed 9 of 14 passes with two touchdowns. The win was the fourth straight for Ohio, taking a 11-9 lead in the series.
By suiting up for Pennsylvania, Joraskie will join numerous other area alumni including Southern Columbia grad and current New York Giants fullback Henry Hynoski and former Berwick and Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus.