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Fort Hill's Carter Hess shines in Big 33 Football Classic

May 28—MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — Fort Hill senior Carter Hess was a key cog in team Maryland holding Pennsylvania scoreless in the second half at the Big 33 Football Classic on Sunday.

With Hess controlling the interior of Maryland's defensive line, Maryland was able to get consecutive defensive stands from the one-yard line late in the fourth quarter to keep Pennsylvania off the scoreboard.

However, Maryland trailed 31-0 at halftime and lost 31-7 at Cumberland Valley's Chapman Field for a fifth consecutive defeat in the series.

It wasn't due to a lack of effort from the Fordham University commit Hess, whose eight tackles led both teams.

Maryland hasn't won since 2018, a 9-6 win, primarily because the top-end high school talent in the state often doesn't participate in the game.

In contrast, the game is a significant part of Pennsylvania's high school football history and attracts highly touted recruits.

Hess talked glowingly of the experience and wishes more top players from the Old Line State would participate.

"It was an amazing experience, and I think football players in Maryland should really consider it a goal for them to be a part of," Hess said. "They had me and a teammate stay with a very kind and generous host family. All the people I got to meet and talk to were very welcoming.

"I'm not a very social person, and I typically just like to put my head down and play ball, but anytime I got the chance to speak to someone they were all very nice people who enjoyed the Big 33 game as much as the players did."

The Big 33 game has been played since 1957 and is often referred to as the "Super Bowl of High School Football" — a fitting name as no Super Bowl has ever been contested without a Big 33 alum.

The game has pitted Pennsylvania's best against all-star teams from Ohio and Texas in the past. Maryland has been its opponents since 2013 and from 1985-92.

This iteration of team Maryland was coached by Steven Erxleben, the head coach at South River High School in Anne Arundel County and a Frostburg State graduate.

"The coaches for our team were some of the best I've had the chance to play under," Hess said. "They were all very patient and wanted us to be able to take the experience with us and learn something from it.

"I really wanted to see what the big prospects in Pennsylvania were like, and I learned a huge amount of my ability as a player from being in the game."

Old Mill's Max Jones was the Most Valuable Player for team Maryland, scoring the state's lone rushing touchdown, and Penn State commit Tyseer Demark from Imhotep Charter Institute was Pennsylvania's MVP after catching three TDs.

The Big 33 performance capped off a senior season of dominance by Hess.

Hess became the first lineman to win area football Player of the Year since 1999 and second ever in the 50-year history of the award to cap off a senior season in which he accumulated 145 tackles (74 solos), 13 sacks, 23 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles.

Hess went 33-0 in wrestling to capture the 2A/1A state title in the heavyweight division by defeating North Harford's Clay Lawrence, 4-2, in the final match.

He was the first Fort Hill individual wrestling champion since Dave Phillips took home the 189-pound state title in 1990. He is also just one of five Sentinels to ever achieve the feat, joining Paul Thomas (98 pounds, 1986), Butch Haller (155, 1981) and Howard Blank (155, 1980).

Just this past week, Hess made the second-longest discus throw in Maryland state track and field state championship meet history at 189' 3" — a Class 1A record.

Only Vikas Gowda's heave of 200' 2" for Frederick in 2001 was longer in Maryland's history. It was also a personal best for Hess by 17 feet, extending his own school record in the process.

Alex Rychwalski is a sports reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.