By Tom Robinson, NEPASportsNation.com
The County has the advantage over the City in star power going into Wednesday night’s 87th annual Dream Game at Valley View’s John Henzes/Veterans Memorial Stadium at 7.
The Scranton Lions Club-sponsored game, presented this year by Northeast Rehab and Riverfront Sports, returns after a year off that was forced by public health conditions surrounding the pandemic.
Using NEPAFootball.com 2020 all-star selections as a guide, the County has the more decorated lineup as it tries to cut into the City’s 42-39-4 lead in the series.
Throughout the history of the Dream Game, which features recent graduates of Lackawanna Football Conference teams, there have, however, been many examples of the team with less highly honored players pulling off what could be regarded as an upset in the game.
The bulk of the players in the game received some type of all-star recognition during their high school careers.
The County has more of the players who received Player of the Year honors, all-District 2 recognition or two-way, first-team selections in their division.
“Even at Scranton Prep, we’ve always gone with the approach that you have to go out every week and prove yourself,” City coach Terry Gallagher said. “ … It’s one last chance to go out there and showcase your talents and get after it.
“Hopefully, we’ll go out there and perform. There’s obviously some kids over there (on the County) that are some really good football players and all-stars and stuff like that, but we also have some guys like that. It’s going to come down to who blocks better and who tackles better.”
Western Wayne fullback Zane Janiszewski, the District 2 Offensive Player of the Year, leads the way for the County.
Janiszewski closed out his career with the Wildcats by carrying 35 times for 340 yards and 2 touchdowns against Wallenpaupack. He ran for more than 200 yards in five of the six games in the abbreviated 2020 season and 129 yards in the other.
In six games, Janiszewski ran for 1,421 yards, averaging 8.6 per carry, and scoring 14 touchdowns. For his career, he ran for 3,919 yards and 50 touchdowns and was in on 296 tackles.
Including Janiszewski, the County has seven all-District 2 players and the City has two, one of them a specialist.
Delaware Valley defensive lineman Thomas Actisdano and defensive back Mark Callanan; Lakeland defensive lineman Cross Douglass and defensive back Mike Pidgeon; Valley View linebacker T.J. Noto and Old Forge athlete Mike DiGregorio are the other County all-District 2 players.
The City all-District 2 players are Lackawanna Trail fullback Ray Melnikoff and Dunmore punter Peyton Badyrka.
County players Janiszewski and Noto and City player Melnikoff all share the distinction of being an NEPAFootball.com division Player of the Year on one side of the ball and a first-team, all-star on the other. All are linebackers who double as fullbacks or running backs.
Lakeland’s Cross Douglas, another two-way all-star, was the LFC Division 3 Lineman of the Year.
The County also has Mike DiGregorio, a three-way, first-team, all-star in LFC Division 4 as a wide receiver, defensive back and punter.
In all, the County has eight multi-position, first-team division all-stars compared to five on the City team.
Delaware Valley’s Callanan (wide receiver/defensive back), Aiden Oliver (quarterback/punter) and Preston Machado (running back/linebacker) were two-way picks in LFC Division 1.
Lakeland’s Pidgeon was an LFC Division 3 choice at wide receiver and defensive back.
Dunmore’s Karl Kincel was an LFC Division 3 first-teamer at fullback and linebacker. Teammate Badyrka made it as kicker and punter.
The other City players who were two-way, LFC first-teamers were Scranton Prep tight end/linebacker Vito Gianello in Division 2 and Susquehanna athlete/linebacker Garrett Decker in Division 4.