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Valor Bowl’s new format sparks renewed excitement

The Valor Bowl is going to look a bit different this year… that is, assuming it actually happens.

Barring a cancellation due to the coronavirus, the 22nd edition of the all star game will pit Chester County against Berks County, for the first time. 

The top seniors from both counties will square off May 28, at 7:15 p.m. at Kottmeyer Stadium at Downingtown West.

“We were looking to upgrade it and take it to another level” said Scott Allison, Valor Bowl co-founder. “Our goal was to get county versus county, as the next step.”

The first 21 games split Chester County into halves for the annual game, with the main purpose to raise money for children with special needs.

The Believe and Achieve Foundation leads the charge on the charity front, and the game has raised over $600,000 since its inception. 

Twin Valley head coach, Dean Owens, who formerly coached at West Chester East and still teaches there, knew all about the game and was eager to rally Berks when Allison presented the opportunity.

“The tradition of the Valor Bowl is a positive one, with their involvement in charity,” Owens said. “It starts there, and when you look at our league, we wanted to bring back an all star game. Our guys want to see how they match up with Chester County, and visa versa.”

Allison and Owens finalized the rosters a couple weeks ago, and with only the top 40 or so players from each county participating, the competition is expected to pick up.

“They hadn’t had a game in awhile and came at us with open arms and were all in,” Allison said. “There’s a lot of talent up there, and it should be a great game.”

Owens will lead the Berks team, comprised of players from strong programs such as Wilson (West Lawn) and Berks Catholic, and one of the quarterbacks on the roster is Charlie Maddocks, who played at Bishop Shanahan for a season.

Harry O’Neill, who stepped down as head coach of Avon Grove after the season, will lead the Chester County team.

“I think it’s pretty cool and was a long time coming,” O’Neill said. “I think having a bigger roster will make the game more competitive and I think it makes it fresher and gives the kids more camaraderie, playing together.”

O’Neill’s former lineman, Nick Pino, will get to play after missing his senior season with an injury. Downingtown West’s Pat Cusack also gets to lace them up one more time at Kottmeyer after an injury in the West scrimmage knocked him out for the year.

“They’re two of the better players in the league,” O’Neill said. “For them to have the opportunity to play one more time at the high school level, with some of their teammates, is really cool.”

As is always the case, some of the bigger names won’t compete, with their college careers on the horizon. Downingtown West QB, Will Howard, is already at Kansas State. Others like West’s Sean Pelkisson and Beau Bryan, Coatesville’s Ricky Ortega, Dapree Bryant and Ricky Santiago, as well as West Chester East’s Kyle Cichanowsky are committed to other all-star games.

But there is still plenty of skill for Chester County, with Daily Local News’ 2019 Player of the Year, Downingtown West’s Tyriq Lewis, as well as West Chester Rustin’s Nick Madonna and Unionville’s Connor Schilling in the backfield and Oxford’s Justin Neskie and Downingtown East’s Connor Noble as receiving weapons.

Defensively, ChesCo will be led by West’s Max Hale and Rustin’s Matt Montgomery, up front, Coatesville’s John Ruttman and Avon Grove’s Wyatt Kirby at linebacker and Downingtown East’s James Basilli and West Chester East’s Kunal Maheshwari in the secondary. 

Allison said the game is expected to alternate hosting sites, with Berks holding it next year.

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