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North Tonawnada gears up for TNT alumni football game

NORTH TONAWANDA - It’s one more chance to play the game they love and one more chance to go to war with their football brothers by their side.

On July 13, the Jacks will play host to the Warriors in the first-ever TNT Alumni football game.

Taking place at the Lumberjacks Sports Complex at North Tonawanda High School, the game kicks-off at 7:30, with pre-game events starting at 7 p.m.

Put together by the Pennsylvania based company Alumni Football USA, former Jacks and Warriors will get the chance to don their schools colors one more time for a full-contact game. TNT is the very first game Alumni Football USA has put on in New York.

“I was really surprised. It almost seemed like this might be a joke,” 1998 NT grad

Aaron Day said when his brother, Adam Day, told him about the alumni game.

“I looked into it and saw that it was actually something that they were trying to put together. Figured it was a good opportunity to go back and play one more time. It’s awesome. Just to be able to go out there and play one more time and to be out there with my brother and to be able to enjoy the sport of football and the camaraderie it brings. It’s awesome. We’re looking forward to it.”

Aaron Day, who lives in Texas, isn’t the only person who feels that way as roughly 35-40 former Lumberjacks are expected to suit up for the alumni game.

While the common thread of all wearing the scarlet and blue is enough to bond the alumni Jacks as they prepare for one more clash with their cross-canal rivals, Adam Day said Nt has the plus of a core of guys who played together during the same time span in the mid to late 1990s.

Even more special for the Day’s is they will also team up with their brother-in-law’s Joe Loncar (2001) and John Mohr (2000) who is serving as NT’s offensive coordinator.

NT captain Adam Day went onto say that the chemistry that he and the others who played for coach Dave Anastasi in the 90s has blended perfectly with the guys from the 2000’s who played under Eric Jantzi for a mix that should work well for NT.

“There’s about 15-to-20 of us who played together,” said Adam Day. “Then sprinkle in some young guys that are good athletes, skill players...So we’ve had no problems at all. Everyone just wants to play their roles.”

Rich Stonebreaker (1998) and Dan Ohrum (1995) are also among the 1990s Jacks who are playing.

The Jantzi era Jacks, who had a decade of dominance in AA North, will feature brothers Mike (2008) and Nick Skillington (2007), Chris Remier (2003), Jeff Zellner (2009), Brandon Deceine (2003)

Adam Kibat (2008) and 2010 grad Tom Sell who, as of press time, is the only member of the NT 2009 state title team signed up to play.

The Jacks of the 90s have experienced wins and losses to Tonawanda, including several alumni who played in the heartbreaking 7-6 OT loss in 1996. Knowing full well that NT is riding a 13 game winning

streak in the rivalry the alumni Jacks said they aren’t feeling added pressure, but certainly plan on

bringing their best effort to win.

“Our practices are getting pretty intense and everyone wants to win,” Adam Day said.”No one wants to come out of retirement and end up with a loss. So we’re all doing our best. We’ve had some guys who have been to 17,18 practices. We’re definitely putting a hundred percent into it. We just hope that maybe we can come out of retirement one more time and play next year.”

But along with the thrill of playing the game one more time their comes a sense of greater appreciation for varsity football.

“I feel like it’s a gift from God that I’ll be able to play with my brother and my two brothers-in-law one more time,” Adam Day said.

Now as adults, most with families of their own, the NT alumni realizes just how fleeting life’s special moments are. And that the chance to play one more game for their high school gives them a chance to relive those days while making new memories.

“Yeah absolutely,” Aaron Day said with a smile. “When you’re playing in high school you don’t realize how fast life goes by. Then when it’s over you just can’t believe it that it’s done. Now that we’re getting one more time to go back out there, you just really want to take it all in and enjoy it...I’m really looking forward to it.”

And so is everyone in the Twin Cities as the game kicks off Canal Fest Week.

Pre sale tickets are available for $10 each at the North Tonawanda High School athletic office July 8-10 from 9a.m. to Noon.

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