The 2018 Big 33 Game will be missing most of the stars of the WPIAL when it’s played in Harrisburg this June.
But it’s looking like it’s not because of an Eastern bias on the half of the selectors.
While 11 of the 34 athletes selected to the squad have WPIAL roots, that group doesn’t include nine of the area’s top 10 college prospects or any player on any of the three state championship squads from the region.
But not all of them were snubbed by the selection committee. Belle Vernon OL Blake Zubovic, Bethel Park DT James Gmiter, Mt. Lebanon WR Aidan Cain, New Castle DB Marcus Hooker, Pine-Richland QB Phil Jurkovec and Thomas Jefferson DT Devin Danielson all declined bids to play in the game, according to Billy Splain of WesternPaFootball.net.
Aliquippa star Kwantel Raines wasn’t selected for a different reason. No one nominated him. Raines, the top defensive recruit in the WPIAL, who is signed to play at West Virginia next year, wasn’t nominated by his Quips coaches.
“Coach never nominated me,” Raines said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. “They said it was hard to reach Aliquippa coaches, and they never got back to them. … I would have played in it.”
Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac, meanwhile, might not be returning to the Quips next season. According to the Tribune-Review, the school board will meet on Wednesday to discuss the future of Zmijanac, who has coached at Aliquippa since 1997.
Raines said the team is under the impression that he won’t be back.
“I’m pretty sure he’s not coaching next year,” Raines said. “We pretty much knew once his contract was over that he wasn’t going to be coaching next year.”
Raines didn’t think the two items were related. The Big 33 Game will be played on June 16 in Harrisburg, with Pennsylvania facing Maryland.