Mike Schuback was early in his career when he was asked to make a switch in Old Forge’s place in the Dream Game coaching rotation.
Without knowing he would ever reverse roles, Schuback switched spots to allow veteran Carbondale coach John Lasavage to coach his son, Josh, one last time late in his career.
The favor was returned this summer.
Schuback will get to coach a special class of Old Forge athletes, including his son Shane, for the County team against the City Wednesday night in the 80th annual Scranton Lions Club-sponsored Dream Game at Henzes Stadium in Peckville.
Mike Schuback approached Dream Game player/coach liaison Jerry Preschutti a few years ago about the possibility of handling this year’s Dream Game. At the time, the Blue Devils and the class of 2014 were building toward some of the decorated program’s finest moments.
The Schubacks helped Old Forge advance all the way to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state Class A championship game in Hershey where they lost, 15-14, to Pittsburgh North Catholic in overtime.
Shane Schuback is one of seven Blue Devils on the County roster.
“Old Forge was kind of going through a little coaching turnover for a while prior to me being there,” coach Schuback said. “I never anticipated being able to coach 13 years as the head coach at the high school.
“I love it.”
Jake Manetti will start at quarterback for the County and could play some wide receiver and defensive back. The other Blue Devils in the game for recent graduates from the Lackawanna Football Conference are tailback Brandon Yescavage, defensive end Paul Papi, tackle/defensive end Joe Bruno, linebacker/fullback Jorden Sekol, and outside linebacker Matt Trotta.
Shane Schuback, who will play tight end, linebacker and punter is one of three players from the team headed to Division II football programs after the Dream Game. Bruno is going to Assumption along with Riverside’s Tyler Armillay, another County lineman. Sekol is headed for Kutztown.
Yescavage and Manetti will play at King’s.
Ryan Paulish, another Old Forge graduate, reports to Colgate today to begin his Division I career, so he knew from the start he would not be able to play in the Dream Game.
“They repaid the favor for us,” said Schuback, who is 103-42 as a head coach, said of getting his chance this year. “This is going to be a special one. We’re trying to work as hard as we can to figure it out with the rules, the different people and the different schemes to do whatever we have to do to win the game.”
Schuback played on a winning Dream Game team and coached in a 2005 loss against the City and Dunmore’s Jack Henzes, who will again be on the opposite sideline Wednesday. The game features the coaches who led the top Class A teams in the East the past two seasons. The Bucks played in the 2012 state final.
Although Henzes ranks second in state history with 382 wins, Schuback and Henzes carry matching .710 winning percentages into this season.
Schuback said he is keeping the offense simpler in his second chance to coach in the Dream Game. He had 10 days to prepare players from 10 schools – Abington Heights, Carbondale, Honesdale, Lackawanna Trail, Lakeland, Mid Valley, Riverside, Valley View and Western Wayne – to play together. The City features players from Delaware Valley, Dunmore, Holy Cross, Montrose, North Pocono, Scranton, Scranton Prep, Susquehanna, Wallenpaupack and West Scranton.
“We tried to implement too much the first time and we just got confused,” Schuback said.
Schuback said social media has aided the process this time around. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have helped players get to know each other and reduces the amount of animosity between former opponents, according to the coach.
Riverside’s other players in the game are lineman Joe Hoban and wide receiver/defensive back Nico Munley, the grandson of Frank Pazzaglia, who was Mike Schuback’s Dream Game coach while he was at Valley View.