BY COREY GESFORD
Few high school sports have the finality like football. There’s golf or softball leagues to join. A pickup basketball game to be played. While flag football leagues exist most football, players have “strapped on the pads” for the final time. One local player got to do that one more time on one of the grandest of stages.
Recent Susquehanna Community High School graduate and offensive guard David Armitage got that experience when he suited up for the City Squad in the 84th Scranton Lions Club Dream Game. The annual event pits senior players throughout the Lackawanna League in a final high school football game. Armitage’s City squad defeated the County team 49-20.
Armitage played several series on the offensive line and with the Special Teams groups.
“I loved being able to play one last game,” said Armitage, who missed three games during his senior year due to injury.
The Dream Game is one of the longest running senior All Star football games in the nation and nearly 7,500 people attended this year’s event held at John Henzes Veterans Memorial Stadium in Peckville.
“There’s just great feeling of respect and excitement about the game,” said Armitage. “And it’s definitely a higher caliber of play.”
Armitage was one of the smallest linemen playing and in a game that features players from all six of the different classifications in the PIAA he found himself in some tough assignments.
“I had to block a tackle from Delaware Valley, and he probably outweighed me by 70 pounds,” said Armitage.
The teams gather and practice for little more than a week before the game. The City team was led by Wallenpaupack Coach Mark Watson and the team practiced at Wallenpaupack High School. Armitage noted that the coaching staff did an excellent job of creating competitive practices while also recognizing that it’s a different experience than the regular football season.
“We went hard at practice, but it was also a good time,” said Armitage. “We needed to know our stuff, still understand what we needed to do.”
Despite the limited time to prepare for the game Armitage said the physical demands of practice weren’t the hardest part.
“That drive was tough,” said Armitage of his daily trip from Susquehanna to Wallenpaupack.
Armitage stated it was also an interesting dynamic on the team because you put players who have spent several seasons competing against each other in the same uniform and expect them to work together.
“You have a guy (teammate) and you’ve hated each other and now we are on the same team,” mused Armitage. “But you come together because now you have the same goal.”
Armitage was the only participant from the Susquehanna County schools. Montrose’s Seth Bulkley was listed on the original roster but opted out of playing.