A.J. Licata will suit up for the South team in the Kensington Lions All-Star Game. Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes.
A handful of football players from Frontier decided to spend four more years with each other in college at Alfred University.
Although A.J. Licata has not yet played in his final game with some of his teammates, next week’s all-star football game will be his last with Adrian Cannon.
Cannon is instead headed to Case Western in the fall. But before his college career begins, he will join Licata one last time as they don their blue Frontier helmets for one final football game.
Cannon and Licata will represent the Falcons in the 39th Annual Kensington Lions All-Star High School Football Classic, presented by Ad-Pro Sports.
“It’s been a great ride. I know it’s just a helmet and a penny, but it’s nice to put on the uniform again,” Cannon said.
The All-Star game will be played at 7 p.m. July 30 at Depew High School.
Cannon and Licata will sport white and red as they play for the South team along with locals Jeremiah Bill (Hamburg), Elliott Buccieri of St. Francis and Eden’s Garrett DiStefano.
“It’s just awesome to put on the South colors, even though it’s red,” said Licata. “I can’t wait to clash heads with the North. It’s going to be fun. There’s going to be good competition. We’re just going to go at it.”
“This is the best talent there is in Western New York, so it’s nice to really get to know the guys,” said Cannon.
The Frontier pair helped make history last fall when their Falcons became the first group in almost 30 years to play in the sectional championship game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Although they fell to Jamestown for the Class AA sectional crown, the Frontier grads feel as if they made a statement in 2013 and hope that the following class can follow in their footsteps.
“Our junior year…we did a lot of firsts that year, so we knew we could only get better from there,” said Cannon. “We made the playoffs junior year, so the Ralph is what we had our eyes set on.”
“I knew we were going to have a good team because we had so many returners,” Licata added. “We were already like a family, so coming in we had really high expectations. Not going to the Ralph would’ve been a failure. We wanted to win, but it was nice being there.”
Making it to the Ralph may have been a milestone, but Licata and Cannon will never forget how their Frontier football club earned a berth into the sectional title game.
It was a 17-7 triumph over Orchard Park on Nov. 1. Licata, Class AA Defensive Player of the Year, recorded 11 total tackles and a sack while Cannon accounted for 176 all-purpose yards in the semifinal game that put Frontier over the hump and into the Ralph.
“Sophomore year on varsity we got crushed by OP and then our junior year we let Orchard Park get away,” said Cannon. “People say Hamburg is our biggest rival, but I think it means a little bit more against Orchard Park.”
“A couple of guys here wouldn’t like that, but beating them at home, 17-7, to get to the Ralph…that was one of the biggest games I’ve ever played in,” added Licata, who is teaming up with the likes of Orchard Park, Jamestown and Hamburg for the game.
Joining forces with former foes may have been difficult to think about, but the Frontier grads have found it easy to welcome their rivals throughout the summer.
“Representing Western New York is pretty cool,” said Licata. “And coming together with all of the guys you’ve learned to hate, it’s nice to come together and figure it out.”
Next Wednesday may mark the final game Cannon and Licata play in together, but it won’t be their last games of football as each Frontier grad will go their separate ways at summer’s end. But before then, they’re just looking forward to the opportunity to represent Frontier in the all-star game against their northern opponents.
“We have a good team. I’m sure they have a good team. It’s going to be exciting,” said Cannon.