PORTHENRY-Nick Gilbo made history when he stepped on the field for the Empower Federal Credit Union Upstate vs. Downstate Football Classic June 5.
The Moriah Central School senior was the first Section VII athlete to play in the game that pits the best gridders from around New York State.
"It's definitely exciting," Gilbo said. "I get to play one last high school game. I never thought I'd get this chance."
The game was played at Syracuse University's Carrier Dome, a place Gilbo has played before. A bruising fullback and linebacker, he led Moriah to two Class D state championship games at the dome.
While the experience was fun for Gilbo, his team took its lumps. Downstate won the contest, 41-7.
Football season ended last November for New York's high school athletes, but Gilbo and others had been practicing in Syracuse this spring for the Upstate vs. Downstate Classic. He has spent the week before the game at SU practicing twice a day.
"It's like a training camp," Gilbo said. "They (game officials) take care of everything - housing, food, practices. It's really a neat experience."
Gilbo, who was named to the all-state team last fall, was nominated for the all star game by Larry Ewald, Section VII football coordinator. Gilbo then had to send game films to be evaluated before he was selected by coaches to participate.
A fullback and linebacker by trade, Gilbo was moved to tight end for the Upstate vs. Downstate Classic. He is 6-foot-2 and weighs 240 pounds.
"It really doesn't matter where I play," Gilbo said. "I just love the game. A tight end blocks a lot, just like a fullback, and I'll get a chance to run with the ball when they throw it to me."
The game featured several Division I recruits, including eight players headed to Syracuse University this fall. That list includes Upstate QB Ashton Broyld and Downstate QB Terrel Hunt.
Hunt was the game's star. Hunt, out of Christ the King High School, ran for one touchdown and passed for another. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Hunt completed 4 of 5 passes for 52 yards. He ran for 31 yards on 11 carries, totals that included a 19-yard scramble down to the Upstate 2-yard line and a subsequent 1-yard keeper that blew the game open 20-7 with 4:09 remaining in the third quarter.
Gilbo, who plans on playing football at Hudson Valley Community College this fall, hoped to use the game to catch the eye of a Division I program.
"There will be a lot of players going to Syracuse University and the University of Buffalo in the game," Gilbo said. "This is a chance to see how I stack up against them."
Bill Larrow, Moriah Central School superintendent, is pleased Gilbo represented his school at the Upstate vs. Downstate Classic.
"This is a great honor for Nick to be selected as only New York's best football players are picked to attend this contest," Larrow said.
"Nick is a great role model for the youth in our town," he added. "He is very supportive in all youth activities and values family as a major part in his life. Whether it be PAL football or youth basketball, Nick is always present supporting his family members or helping out as a volunteer.
"As a student, Nick has been a pleasure to have as a member of our school community," Larrow said. "He has always been very polite and respectful toward his teachers and fellow classmates. Nick has also demonstrated positive leadership skills that will help him be successful in what ever he decides to do in the future."