Today’s the day – GIFT 2014 Kickoff

Today’s the day – GIFT 2014 Kickoff

IMG_0075Two Pennsylvania high school American football rivals battle on the gridiron some 3,200 miles from home as the Cedar Cliff Colts and Penn Manor Comets clash in the Global Ireland Football Tournament (GIFT) 2014 at the UCD Bowl at 7pm on Friday.

The last time they met, Penn Manor edged Cedar Cliff in a 69-point thriller by a score of 35-34, as only a missed extra point enabled the Comets to advance in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) playoffs and ended the Colts’ quest for a championship.

“The Cedar Cliff game is something special,” said Comets coach Todd Mealy. “This is the first time we’re playing in the regular season. We’ve played two years in a row in the playoffs. It is two well-coached teams and we usually play each other at the end of the year and now we’re playing each other in the first game of the season. It is going to be a really good game.”

IMG_0158The two teams might have be traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to come face to face in Dublin, but only 41 miles separates the Cedar Cliff base near Harrisburg, PA, and Lancaster, LA, home of Penn Manor.

Global Ireland Football Tournament facts

Venue UCD Bowl, University College Dublin
Date Friday, August 29
Kickoff 7pm local time / 2pm US EST
Broadcast sportslive.aertv.ie ($10 subscription)
Teams Cedar Cliff Colts vs. Penn Manor Comets
Organizer Global Football
Head Coaches Colin Gillen, Cedar Cliff / Todd Mealy, Penn Manor
Honorary Chairman Kyle Brady, former Penn State and NFL tight end
Special Guest Eric Dickerson, Pro Football Hall of Fame NFL running back
Tickets www.TicketGroup.ie

Coaches

Cedar Cliff Head Coach Colin Gillen kicks off his tenure in charge of the Colts in Ireland. He began his coaching career as an assistant on the defensive line for the Huntingdon Bearcats as they won the Big Eight Football Conference and the District 6 AAA Championship. He spent the next seven years as an assistant offensive and defensive line coach at ELCO High School then in 2008 became assistant football coach at Cedar Cliff, where he coached offensive line for six years, highlighted by five straight District 3 AAAA playoff appearances and a Mid Penn Keystone Division Championship in 2013.

Penn Manor Head Coach Todd Mealy has accounted for nearly 30% of the football program’s victories, or 23 more wins than Penn Manor posted from 1990-2006, during his seven seasons at the helm. Mealy became Penn Manor’s all-time wins leader in 2012, accumulating a 50-31 overall record, including 49-22 since 2008. The Comets have had four nine-plus win seasons during that time. Penn Manor has made the District-3 AAAA playoffs six consecutive times, including a 5-6 overall playoff record and has finished with a winning record in Section-1 six of seven years.

Key players

Cedar Cliff – Sophomore quarterback Grant Breneman steps into the spotlight and like his head coach Colin Gillen, will begin the new season steering the fortunes of the Colts for the first time. He will target experienced wide receivers John McGee and Noah Malone. Defensively, the Colts are led by linemen Dylan Farrow and Garrett Villar and linebackers Jordan Stiles and Cole Whalen.

Penn Manor – Quarterback Tenner Erisman threw for 1,383 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and will target receivers Keagan Gamber and Gerrin McKinnie, while Tyler Spanger poses a threat on the ground at running back. Defensive end Noah Braun and a trio of linebackers in Ashton Leschke, Seve Johnson and Carter Kinser promise to cause disruption on the other side of the ball.

The last time they met…

Penn Manor staged an impressive 21-point comeback to win 35-34 in the opening round of the District 3-AAAA playoffs back in November. Quarterback Tanner Erisman threw a 32-yard touchdown on fourth down to trigger the scoring of 28 second half points for the Comets win. A two-yard run by Charles Bell, for his fourth touchdown of the game, with three and a half minutes remaining sealed victory.

Live webcast

For fans not traveling to Ireland, the clash between the Colts and Comets will be streamed live on Aertv Sportslive (sportslive.aertv.ie) for a subscription of $10. Aertv is Ireland’s No.1 streaming service. Aertv is disrupting the TV landscape across Ireland by embracing mobile and video technology to distribute live content to a growing smart economy that consumes the majority of their TV content online.

Philippe Brodeur, director of Aertv said, “We are delighted to be a part of GIFT 2014, an exceptional and unique event in Ireland. Aertv gives real accessibility on every platform and device, which will be really important for the families and friends of players who can’t make it over. It’s the next best thing to being at the game!”