By JOE KONZE
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — NORTH TONAWANDA—There is a saying that goes “You spend four years of high school trying to get out and the rest of your life trying to get back in.”
For the alumni football players representing Tonawanda and North Tonawanda, they won’t have to wait the rest of their lives to find their way back into high school.
On Saturday night, in front of a crowd of 1,600 cheering fans, almost two decades of players took to the field to relive their most prized memories on the gridiron at George Vetter Stadium.
In the first annual T-NT Alumni Classic Football game, the Lumberjacks unleashed an offensive assault on the Warriors en route to a 29-7 victory.
Scott Miranto led the offense for North Tonawanda, catching two touchdowns and a two-point conversion.
“I feel old,” Miranto said. “You come out here and you’re like ‘Tackle? Am I really going to do this again? Is my body going to hold up?’ We’ve been going at it all week at practice for a few months and it feels great to be able to come out and do it again.”
Miranto earned the game’s MVP for North-Tonawanda.
The Lumberjacks jumped out to an early 7-0 lead with just under seven minutes to go in the first quarter.
Thomas Sell, a 2010 NT graduate rushed down the sideline, being the first to etch his name in the history books. Sell finished the game with just one touchdown.
The Lumberjacks began to pull away behind the hands of 2004 graduate Scottie Miranto. Just before the end of the first half, Miranto caught a pass from 2002 graduate Joseph Loncar to go up 13-0 heading into the locker room, a lead they would not relinquish.
Tonawanda would get its only touchdown on a pass from Scott Foster to his cousin Shane Foster.
Among all of the excitement of touchdowns and big hits there were still the same chants and celebrations after every hit and touchdown. The passion for a rivalry that has seen 103 games made this quite the experience for players and fans.
“Growing up in this community there is a lot of guys I grew up watching,” Miranto said. “I remember being up in the stands and cheering for guys like Jonny Mohr and Adam Day and now I’ve gotten the opportunity to play with them. It’s probably the coolest thing about this experience; being able to play with all these legends.”
Rich Brumfield, a graduate of Tonawanda high school and MVP, embraced the event as well.
“I don’t care that we lost. We just went out and had a good time,” said Brumfield, a 2001 graduate and Alumni Football Game MVP for Tonawanda. “(Reading the defense) for me, it was like I did it yesterday. It’s been 12 years, but it felt like it was yesterday.”
Although a second-annual game has not been announced yet, there has been talk amongst the players about another game next year. For Frank Pallotta, a 1955 graduate of NT and 1973 NT Football Hall of Fame inductee, he hopes the game can continue a few more years.
“I wouldn’t want to be out there. I’ve been asked, but I’m not that crazy,” Pallotta said. “This was really a nice evening, a lot of fun here. There is a lot of history here in North Tonawanda; the rivalry is a great tradition. It’s probably the best in the eastern part of the country or even the whole country.”