Big-33 Classic ditches Ohio for Maryland

For two decades, high school athletes from Ohio drove across the Pennsylvania border to play in the annual Big-33 Football Classic, an all-star game that pitted players from the two states against one another.

Not anymore.

After speaking with other nearby states, the Big 33 announced Wednesday it has not renewed its five-year contract with Ohio and instead inked one with Maryland. The Keystone state will now play Maryland for at least the next five years, starting June 15, 2013.

"We could have a good border battle going on. You know, there's probably not a bigger rivalry than between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens," said Dave Trimbur, executive director of the Big 33 Scholarship Foundation. "Yeah, you have Penn State vs. Ohio State, but there's a lot more going on here."

Trimbur cited "contractual issues" in addition to proximity and a growing Maryland talent base as reasons for the move, which isn't unprecedented with this all-star game. The Pennsylvania-based football classic, which traces its roots to 1957, has at times included Texas, Ohio, Maryland and simply East Pa. vs. West Pa.

The last time Pennsylvania squared off against Maryland was 1992. Pennsylvania won 38-0.

"I guess it's not a bad thing," said Penn State tight end Garry Gilliam, who was a member of the 2009 classic. "A lot of our players come from Maryland. I think it'll be just as prestigious as it was."

The Buckeye state boasts 87 prospects this season who are rated three stars and higher. Pennsylvania and Maryland combine for 83. Ohio has won the last four contests.

"[Maryland] is as strong of a state as Ohio in scholastic football, and we thought the proximity of the state was important," Trimbur said. "You can get to anywhere from Maryland to Hershey in about three hours. Unfortunately, in Ohio, it was six hours or so."

Penn State will select its roster during the second week of January, while Maryland will pick players a month later.