By David Yarger
Wednesday night, several local Class of 2019 high school football players represented their respective programs in the 44th Kensington Lions All-Star High School Football Classic at Williamsville South High School.
The game gave this past June’s graduating class of football players one last chance to don their school’s colors before heading off to college.
Players included Grand Island quarterback Cam Sionko and defensive end Jeremiah Wilkes IV, Niagara-Wheatfield quarterback/running back/wide receiver/cornerback Jordan Parks, Starpoint running back/wide receiver Brendan Gawel, wide receiver Matthew Spina, defensive end/tight end Robert Roetzer and offensive/defensive lineman Jacob Agro; Lewiston-Porter right guard/defensive end Joseph Powers (did not play due to injury), Wilson quarterback Steve Frerichs and wide receiver Marcel Wilson; and Niagara Falls wide receiver/safety Moran Montgomery and linebacker PJ Young.
The locals played for the North All Stars, and, although, the game didn’t end as planned – a 30-20 loss versus the South All Stars – players such as Parks, Sionko and Wilkes worshipped playing one last game wearing their school’s colors.
Wilkes said, “It was sad. It’s heartbreaking. I played two years (with) four years of dedication. The whole time putting in hard work with Cam. Just moving to the Island and playing football with Cam was just a blessing honestly.”
Sionko added, “When I moved to the Island, I started playing little league and we were pretty good. … When JJ came in, it was like another person to help us lead. We were able to do that, both, offensively and defensively – both sides of the ball – and we were pretty good. It’s just cool being (in) blue and white again, just playing again.”
Parks noted, “It felt great. Got a little injury (during the game), but we’re gonna overcome it. But it was great to get out here and play with the guys we were competing against all year. Just having my friends here, knowing they were here for me, people I played with, too, it feels great.”
Wilkes spent majority of his time on the defensive side of the ball and was in on several plays, including a tipped pass that he nearly intercepted in the third quarter.
Sionko was behind center for periods during all four quarters. The Vikings QB executed a perfect two-minute drill before the end of the first half. On the drive, Sionko had a rush for 14 yards and passes for 35, 23 and 29 yards, the last being a touchdown to give the North its first score of the day.
Other than two tough interceptions, Sionko made the most of the night with two touchdown passes and unofficially over 200 yards passing. The Vikings alum gave it his best shot for North offensive MVP, but the award went to Kenmore West’s Joe Stewart, who had a stellar outing at wide receiver.
Parks spent time at wide receiver and as the main kick returner. He turned it a couple of returns of 20-plus yards.
Frerichs started and split time with Sionko at quarterback and threw a touchdown to Stewart in the third quarter.
Gawel and Spina were the beneficiaries of several of Sionko and Frerichs’ passes. Spina scored the first touchdown on a 29-yard pass from Sionko with time winding down in the first half.
Other players such as the Wolverines’ Young and Montgomery made their presence felt on defense. The two were in on an abundance of tackles, and Montgomery recovered a muffed punt during the game. Montgomery also served as a captain for the North squad alongside Powers of the Lancers.
For some, it was the last game they would put the pads on. For players like Wilkes, he said he cherished the opportunity for one last grind on the gridiron.
“This was my last game, so it was a great feeling honestly,” Wilkes said. “It’s just the best feeling ever.”
For Wilkes, he will continue his education at Niagara County Community College, while Sionko will continue his academics and football career at Buffalo State.
Additionally, Parks will move on to Erie Community College; Gawel, St. John Fisher College; Spina, SUNY Brockport; Montgomery, undecided; Frerichs, Morrisville State; Marcel Wilson, Buffalo State; Roetzer, Alfred University; Young, Mansfield University; Agro, SUNY Brockport; and Powers, Hobart & William Smith.
From left, Jeremiah Wilkes IV and Cam Sionko of Grand Island.
From left, quarterbacks Steve Frerichs of Wilson and Cam Sionko of Grand Island throw during warmups.
Niagara Falls' Moran Montgomery gets introduced to the crowd Wednesday night.
Niagara-Wheatfield's Jordan Parks makes a return during Wednesday's game.
Jeremiah Wilkes IV, in blue, looks to get pressure on the quarterback.
Left, Jordan Parks of Niagara-Wheatfield, right, Brendan Gawel of Starpoint, are introduced Wednesday night.