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The Streak Continues – Big 33, Super Bowl Forever Linked

February 3, 2023
Chad Henne is a BIg33 alum

The Big 33 Classic is a high school football all-star game that has been played since 1957. It has followed a few different formats over the years, but it has been forever linked to the Super Bowl. In every single Super Bowl, there has been at least one player who played in the Big 33 Classic.

The streak continues this year with Philadelphia’s Miles Sanders and Kansas City’s Frank Clark and Chad Henne. All three players played in the prestigious all-star game after the senior years of high school. 

Sanders finished fifth in the NFL in rushing with 1,269 yards this season. Before playing collegiately at Penn State, Sanders was a star running back at Woodland Hills HS in Pittsburgh. Sanders was the Pennsylvania team’s MVP in the 2016 Big 33 Classic. Pennsylvania defeated Maryland 26-14 that year.

The Big 33 Classic was first held in 1957 and has been played annually ever since. Herb Adderley, who played for the Green Bay Packers, played in the first Big 33 Classic. Adderley, who played at Northeast HS in Philadelphia, would play in Super Bowls I and II. Since Adderley and the additions of Sanders, Clark, and Henne; Big 33 alumni to play in the Super Bowl now numbers 149.

The original format of the Big 33 Classic pitted the best high school players in Pennsylvania against the best players from around the nation. Over the years, the format has changed a few times. Through the years, PA players have faced all-star teams from Texas, Ohio, and, the current format, which is against Maryland. 

There are plenty of familiar names among the Big 33 alumni that have played in a Super Bowl. The streak continued after Adderley when a young quarterback from the Pittsburgh area predicted that his New York Jets would beat the NFL champion Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. That young quarterback was Joe Namath, a product of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Namath would become the first quarterback in the history of football to win a college national championship, a major professional league title (AFL), and a Super Bowl. 

Joe Montana, Tony Dorsett, and a young Ohio quarterback from Findlay are also among the Big 33 Super Bowl alumni. In 2000, Ben Roethlisberger played for Ohio against the PA all-stars in the Big 33 Classic. He would go on to star at Miami (OH) and then lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to two Super Bowl victories. 

Last year’s Super Bowl featured Cincinnati Bengals WR Tyler Boyd, a Big 33 alumnus. Boyd played his high school football at Clairton HS. He played in the 2013 Big 33 game. Noah Spence, who played at Bishop McDevitt HS in Harrisburg, PA, was on the Bengals practice squad last year. The Rams’ Aaron Donald played at Penn Hills HS in PA and was selected to play in the Big 33 classic but declined the invitation.

This year’s streak would have been intact no matter who won the respective league championship games. Each of the final four teams had at least one player that had played in the Big 33 game. The 49ers had three – Robbie Gould, Kevin Givens, and Tyler Kroft.


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