WEST PITTSTON – There's a reason why Ivy League and Patriot League schools are seeking Dallas quarterback Ryan Zapoticky.
And it has nothing to do with his kicking ability. Neither did it factor in the strong-arm signal-caller being named the MVP of the UNICO All-Star Classic at Wyoming Area's Jake Sobeski Stadium on Wednesday night.
Zapoticky threw three touchdown passes, including a game-changing 80-yarder to high school teammate Jason Simonovich, as the West defeated the East 34-7.
Zapoticky finished 6 of 14 for 205 yards. He also threw touchdown passes of 3 yards to Tunkhannock's Josh Colley and 44 yards to Pittston Area's Joe Starinsky as the West scored the game's final 34 points to post it seventh consecutive victory in a game that was first played in 1952.
It was a great experience, Zapoticky said. The guys were a bunch of fun. It's nice to come together and have the all-stars from around the league and just have a good time playing football.
That good time included an unexpected twist as Zapoticky had to kick extra points. He hadn't attempted one since last year against Scranton Prep. That kick hit the crossbar and bounced back.
Today right before the game about 15 minutes before we took the field, they were like, Zap, you're kicking,' said Zapoticky, who made his first four before missing his final attempt.
The West also scored on a 4-yard run by Berwick's Jeff Steeber and a 1-yard run by Wyoming Valley West's Derrick Simms. Simms led all ballcarriers with 55 yards on 13 rushes.
We tried to spread the ball around, said Tunkhannock coach Rod Azar, who coached the West. I think five different schools scored touchdowns, so we were really happy we were able to do that. When you have weapons like you do for this game, it's hard to choose which way to go.
The East tried to do the same and succeeded on its first possession of the game.
GAR quarterback Corey Moore hooked up on a 33-yard pass to Crestwood's Kota Kishel and then finished off the 74-yard drive with a toss to high school teammate Lucas Benton for a 27-yard touchdown.
Benton led the pass catchers with six receptions for 97 yards.
It was pretty tough getting used to the other quarterbacks, Benton said. But since I had my own, it was pretty easy and I enjoyed it.
The East's offensive happiness was sporadic. While Moore and Meyers' Teaguen Labatch had success at times through the air, the running game finished with minus-13 yards.
Still, the East trailed only 14-7 at halftime until Zapoticky and Simonovich connected on their 80-yard touchdown at 7:17 of the third quarter.
This is my first time ever being at one, said Holy Redeemer first-year coach Pat Reece, who coached the East. I don't know how it's been in the past, but evidently there is some kind of difference if (the West) won seven in a row.
As you can see as far as their line and our line, their line was beating our line up pretty good. The physical part of it, you can see a difference.
UNICO All-Star Classic
West 34, East 7
EAST – Lucas Benton 27 pass from Corey Moore (Hunter Bednarczyk kick), 7:39
WEST – Josh Colley 3 pass from Ryan Zapoticky (Zapoticky kick), 8:45
WEST – Jeff Steeber 4 run (Zapoticky kick), 3:56
WEST – Jason Simonovich 80 pass from Zapoticky (Zapoticky kick), 7:17
WEST – Joe Starinsky 44 pass from Zapoticky (Zapoticky kick), 11:46
WEST – Derrick Simms 1 run (kick failed), 5:24
RUSHING – East, Parrish Bennett 5-(minus-8), Moore 8-(minus-25), Zac Evans 7-17, Dillon Ropietski 1-6, Benton 1-(minus-3). West, Tony Politz 4-28, Brett Good 4-15, Zapoticky 2-(minus-3), Joe Starinsky 2-21, Simms 13-55, Josh Robinson 2-16, Steeber 4-18, Bill Hillman 1-1, Joe Giambra 1-0, team 1-0.
PASSING – East, Moore 9-17-2-122, Teaguen Labatch 9-18-2-119, West, Zapoticky 6-14-2-205, Hillman 1-1-0-31.
RECEIVING –East, Kota Kishel 5-67, Benton 6-97, Rich Golden 3-28, Corey Keen 2-20, Gabe Dalessandro 1018, Zack Kehler 1-11. West, Politz 2-36, Josh Colley 1-3, Lucky Williams 1-42, Jason Simonovich 1-80, Starinsky 1-44, Robinson 1-31.
INTS – East, Kehler 2. West, Starinsky, Matt Cashman, Robinson, Kris Roccograndi.
SACKS – East, Shakir Soto. West, Simonovich, Tony Le 2.
MISSED FGS – none.