Jeremiah Bill will put on his Hamburg helmet one more time at the All-Star game. Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes.
For Jeremiah Bill, the most unique aspect about being selected to play one more high school football game as an All-Star selection is the chance to team up with players from rival schools that he has played for years.
Bill, a recent Hamburg graduate, will team with players from the likes of Frontier, South Park and West Seneca East, all schools he played against in his final fall of football in 2013.
“We bump heads all the time but it’s great competition. You respect their talent and you appreciate what they bring to the table and you appreciate what you bring to the team,” said Bill. “Yes, it’s a rivalry, but we’re out here working for the same cause: to win this game.”
That game is the 39th Annual Kensington Lions All-Star High School Football Classic, presented by Ad-Pro Sports. The All-Star game was scheduled to be played July 30 at Depew High School. Results were not immediately available at press time.
Bill will play for the South team along with other locals, including Elliott Buccieri of St. Francis, Eden’s Garrett Distefano and Frontier’s A.J. Licata and Adrian Cannon.
The reigning winner of the Trench Trophy, which honors the area’s top senior offensive lineman annually, Bill is the only player from Hamburg to be selected for the traditional All-Star game.
“It’s great to represent my community, my school and I’m representing my teammates as well because without my teammates I obviously wouldn’t be here,” Bill said. “It’s a great honor. Absolutely.”
Headed to suit up for the University of Rochester this fall to continue his football career at the next level, not only is Bill honored to wear the Hamburg helmet for one more game before heading off to college, but he wants to come out victorious.
“Obviously, bringing home the win for the South is probably the biggest thing,” Bill said. “Being able to play tackle is going to be great. I loved playing tackle this year, so being able to go out there and execute at the tackle position will be awesome.”
Bill received calls from Cheektowaga coach Mike Fatta, head coach of the South team, and his own high school coach Pat Cauley, to inform him that he was selected to play in the game. There was no way he was going to reject the chance to play in one more game.
Despite many injuries on an already young team, Bill helped lead his Bulldogs to a 4-5 mark last fall. Although the end of the season wasn’t ideal, he liked the changes and steps the program made, which began almost 12 months ago in preparation for the 2013 season.
“It started kind of early during summer workouts,” said Bill. “We had a new strength and conditioning coach who came in right away and started changing things. That changed the whole mentality for us.
“We were a young team,” he added. “I think I was the only senior playing line. We had a young backfield as well and our senior quarterback went down so we had to have another junior step up, so we had a really young team that had to step up this year.”
The Bulldogs had a chance to go over .500 in the season finale against North Tonawanda, which happened to be the final time Bill had his Hamburg football helmet on. Although his team could not come out with a victory, he was proud of the efforts from his young crew.
“We played North Tonawanda in our last game, and even though we lost, it was a really well-played game,” Bill noted. “We played hard, we fought to the end, and it was emotional, but the season has to come to an end sometime.”
Even though Hamburg saw more losses than wins, a 14-7 triumph over neighboring Frontier is the game that Bill will never forget from his senior campaign.
“One of our highs this year was probably beating Frontier,” Bill said. “It was a great game and I’ll never forget that.”
Some of those Frontier players will be alongside Bill on the South team. He looks forward to teaming up with his former rivals for one football game more than anything.
“It’s nice to be able to interact with these guys and personalize with everyone,” said Bill. “Usually, you just get to watch them on tape and know them as a football player, but not as a person. So it’s really nice.”